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Fix Yourself, with Shannon Connery, PhD
75 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
How to Have a Conversation About Race, With Daniel Ward
Hello, Remember when I was going to take the summer off? Somehow, with the world turned upside down, I don’t want to stop working. Last week I did a “Week of Bravery” on my Instagram account, @thehappinessgain. I was feeling inspired to do brave things after seeing all the crowds marching for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. I felt inspired by nurses, doctors and first responders who have been dealing with the pandemic on the front lines for months. Bravery is demonstrating character and strength in the face of fear or danger. Imagine the choice of sitting home and staying safe from the virus versus marching in massive crowds because you cannot tolerate one more black man getting killed for being black. Millions of white people are finally sitting with the truth of our white privilege. We don’t consider ourselves “racist” so we haven’t looked at the problem in depth until now. There have been moments of time when we looked at blatant racism for a week or two, but then we crept slowly back into our lives. As part of this movement, we have been asked to educate ourselves; to wake up to the reality of what black people have been living with for hundreds of years in this “free” country. We are finally hearing. We are encouraged to have difficult conversations with black people as part of our education. We need to push ourselves to hear their thoughts and experiences in order to stop pretending that things are ok. This week, I decided to have that conversation with a close friend of mine. I was nervous, but felt motivated to show people how profound it is to have a discussion about racism with someone who has experienced it. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t realize how much I’d learn. In this week’s podcast, I have a deep conversation about race with Daniel Ward. He is the CEO and owner of Inward Fitness. His company employs a team of personal trainers, creates health programs for large companies, trains sports teams, and lectures widely on health and fitness. Daniel Ward is a black man, married to a white woman, with two bi-racial children. He is smart and successful; the kind of man it is hard to even imagine dealing with racism. But he does, regularly. In this conversation, you will hear one man’s views on how we can become allies to the Black Lives Matter movement. You will hear what he thinks can help our country become less divided and less racist; like changing what is taught is schools, letting teachers know when they are aiding in stereotypes, and confronting your friends when they say things that demonstrate ignorance. We talked for a long time, but could have gone on for hours more. We both decided to continue the conversation with a part 2, soon. I hope you will listen in. Especially if you want to be part of the solution, but don’t know how to go about it. It might give you a blueprint for how to talk to the people in your life about tough issues. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post How to Have a Conversation About Race, With Daniel Ward appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
54 minutes | Jun 26, 2020
How Kids and Parents Can Thrive Through Difficult Times — My interview with Early Childhood Development Expert Karen Lock Kolp
I usually take the summer months off to spend more time with my family and take a vacation. I enjoy the break from my “Fix Yourself” podcast. While I’m passionate about providing resources for people who can’t afford or don’t want therapy, I do not get paid for it, so I feel just fine taking my summer break. Until this year… Earlier this month, author, coach and creator of the We Turned Out Okay Podcast, Karen Lock Kolp, contacted me to collaborate about how to help our audiences with everything going on in the world. In June 2020, we are all struggling with a global pandemic, systemic racism and an amazing movement to finally address it, massive unemployment, sickness and a contentious election. The world is heavy, to say the least. In my private practice, I see parents struggling in significant ways. People are working from home, while parenting, without the usual support from daycare, camps and schools. Kids aren’t learning as much from their online programs. Uncertainty has become the norm and parents are feeling it. Will our college kids have school in the fall? Will any school be open and safe? How will kids fare emotionally with social distancing and mask wearing? Will we all be ok? All this creates stress and anxiety. Imagine my good fortune that someone of Karen Lock Kolp’s expertise agreed to be a guest on my podcast! Karen is an early childhood development expert, with an audience of thousands, who helps parents deal with all the challenges of raising good kids. So, I dusted off my microphone and asked her to be a guest on the podcast. This information is simply too important to wait for fall. Parents and kids need her help now! If you are feeling lost as a parent, or need some advice on how to get through this tumultuous time, I hope you listen in to our conversation. Karen’s take on how to handle life as a parent right now is empowering and calming. She uses “compassionate empathy” amongst other tools to help kids and parents thrive, not just survive, during the pandemic. Creativity, scheduling, and using resources are just some of the things you will learn about from Karen. Her own website, weturnedoutok.com is filled with resources for parents. Turns out there is lots to learn from being bored, from having extra down time, and by thinking outside the box. This is a quieter time at home for many, and we can find a temporary “new normal” that involves learning in different ways. Cooking with young kids and helping them double a recipe is learning math. I hope you feel as optimistic as I did after talking to Karen Lock Kolp for an hour. What initially seems like an impossible task— like working 60 hours a week as a single mother with a 4 year old to take care of— turns out to be possible with tools and planning. No summer camp? No problem! Karen created one for her community on her website. Oftentimes, the most important thing we have is our attitude, our compassion for others and our creativity. Combining these with parenting tips, just might turn your stress into strength. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you for listening. Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post How Kids and Parents Can Thrive Through Difficult Times — My interview with Early Childhood Development Expert Karen Lock Kolp appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
30 minutes | Jun 1, 2020
Empathy versus Judgment and How Dolly Parton Could Save America
I write with a heavy heart this week after watching yet another black man get killed by yet another white police officer. I feel devastated for the victims and their families. I have worked for years with victims of crime and racism as a trauma psychologist. I know how damaging it is to live in fear. I also spent years working with first responders, most of whom were good people who are likely as heart broken as the rest of the country right now. I feel awful that they are now lumped in with the bad element in our police communities. Somehow, this killing of an innocent man, like everything else, has become partisan. Somehow, instead of total unity about a horrendous act, we are divided and living in judgment. Judgment has become pervasive. We are truly a divided country, and things keep getting worse. Because I am someone who wants to be involved in the solution, not the problem, I recorded a podcast on judgment versus empathy and how Dolly Parton lives in a way that could save this country. I hope you’ll listen in and read this long blog. Judgment, in my opinion, is lazy. We form a quick opinion of someone. Judgment comes from our old brain trying to keep us safe, but it isn’t needed in modern day life like it was when we lived outdoors, with wild animals and food scarcity. Judgment leads us to stop trying to understand things at a deeper level. We give quick labels that categorize people into someone we accept or someone we reject. And, it is taking our culture down. Empathy, by contrast, requires effort. It involves listening and understanding, trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It refuses to make hasty assumptions. With empathy, we get to see how complicated people are. We reject the notion of black or white thinking and we embrace the grays. Empathy provides the possibility of learning something about another human being such that, even if we disagree, we don’t engage in contempt and hatred. The book, A New Earth, by Eckert Tolle, talks about the downside of using labels. Once our brain labels something, like “tree,” we often don’t look closely to observe the shape of the leaves, the colors and how they vary from the other trees. We categorize and our brain gets to rest. But, we miss out on the details and beauty all around us by not looking more closely. Labeling and judgment of people results in the same thing. You miss the full picture. My own use of harsh judgment recently will give a perfect example of this concept. I saw a woman in the store last week who was not wearing a mask. Her one-year-old was in a baby carrier in the grocery cart. I quickly labeled her; selfish, more consumed with her right to get others sick than with our rights to be healthy. I was certain of her political group. And, I did this all in a second. As I walked down the aisle behind her, I saw an older couple with masks on coming our way. What the woman did next, stopped me in my tracks. She pulled out her mask, put it on and attempted social distancing from the older couple. Immediately, her daughter started to cry. Seeing her mom in a mask upset her. She tried repeatedly to pull it off her mom’s face. By this time I was fairly close to the mother and could see her fighting back tears. She needed to be at the store, wanted to wear a mask, but was distressing her daughter who didn’t have any understanding of why her mother was covering her face. My judgment was lazy. My analysis had been way off. I felt sad and filled with empathy for this young mother. I told her it was ok. People would understand. My judgment had formed a barrier; my empathy forged a connection. That’s what they do all the time. I now had to accept that many people have reasons for not wearing masks, and their reasons might not be the negative things I assumed. Stereotypes, which are judgments, can be crushed by one real person. I’m lucky that in my therapy practice, I am exposed to wonderful people from multiple religions, ethnic backgrounds and political parties. You simply cannot say anything about a whole group, when you know someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype. Even one person can smash a negative belief about a group and create a new perspective. A few months ago, I listened to a podcast called Dolly Parton’s America and it opened my eyes to what can happen if you spend no time judging others. Dolly Parton never talks poorly of anyone. She stays out of politics and gossip. She never gives away “which camp she is in.” At first I thought it was because she doesn’t want to lose business from half of the country. By the end of the 8 part series, I had come to believe it was much bigger than that. Dolly Parton genuinely sees the good in people. She listens and smiles and engages from a place of love and understanding. When someone tries to get her to see evil in someone else, she says simple things like “I think we should pray for that person.” Basically, if someone is struggling, we should send good thoughts and love. Am I saying that this is easy or that we shouldn’t judge evil? No, I don’t think we should ever support evil or stay silent when violence or abuse is occurring. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the quick judgments we engage in all the time with people we don’t know. I don’t think what Dolly does is easy. But imagine for a minute, what would happen if you saw others from empathy and didn’t engage in judgment. What might be the benefit? I would argue you would be healthier, wealthier, and happier. The health ramifications of living in anger are real. When your body is upset and on high alert, your fight or flight nervous system is activated. You have more cortisol and stress hormones that can lead to sleep problems, weight gain and a slew of medical problems. Think of the way your body feels when you are trying to get your cousin, who is in the opposite political camp as you, to understand your point of view. It’s like banging your head against the wall, hoping your headache will go away. But if you asked your cousin to help you understand, you might hear something that gives you empathy. Having empathy might take away the agitation and let you feel compassion, even if you don’t agree. Dolly Parton is happy. She radiates energy and giving. She taps into creativity at a level I’ve rarely seen. She has written thousands of songs, been in movies and television shows, and is still writing, performing and creating at 74. She is richer than you can imagine, energized and in high demand. Part of her success might come from her refusal to engage in judgment. I highly recommend you all listen to the podcast, Dolly Parton’s America. She has become an inspiration for me. It’s not that she stays uninvolved in things she cares about. She knows where her passions lie. She has given free books to children for decades. She supports all kinds of charities. What she doesn’t do is partake in the bashing and judgment that so many of us do, seemingly automatically. Take minute to imagine if you felt calm, even when you were around someone with different views. What if you chose to connect on issues like music, books, cooking and children. What if you didn’t reject an entire person because you found out one piece of information that you didn’t like. We do it in our families all the time. We all have that crazy uncle or aunt who we adore, even though they don’t believe all the thing we do. If we can have understanding with them, why not try it with others. Living in empathy, without judgment, might just launch your career, health and creativity to the next level. It might be the path back to a country willing to listen and treat others with respect and dignity. I certainly hope it is one piece of the solution. There are lots of ways to get involved in the solution. Becoming an ally and getting involved is clearly what we all need to do. We can no longer do nothing and avoid being complicit. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Empathy versus Judgment and How Dolly Parton Could Save America appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
56 minutes | May 21, 2020
Overcoming Anxiety with Author Jill Stoddard, Ph.D.
Anyone feeling anxious, stressed or worried as we shelter at home for what feels like the 10,000th day? So many of us have experienced a real sense of distress about what is happening and when it will end. We might worry about getting sick or losing our income. There are fears about the economy staying closed, but also fears about safety as we venture back out. Stress, worry, fear, anxiety? Check, we are feeling them. This week’s guest could not have come at a better time. Dr. Jill Stoddard, author of, Be Mighty—A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry & Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance, is a psychologist who specializes in anxiety. She is a professor, clinician, entrepreneur, speaker and women’s advocate. Her book is a wonderful tool for any of the estimated 264 million people worldwide who will suffer from anxiety disorders during their lifetime. Her tools are helpful for each and every one of us right now. Dr. Stoddard uses ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, to help people overcome the avoidance that often accompanies anxiety. Anxious people like to stay in their “comfort zone,” avoiding all the unpleasant feelings and thoughts that show up with anxiety. If you have social anxiety and get invited to a party, a few things might happen. You might tell yourself that you will say something stupid and end up looking like a fool. You might experience a racing heart or sweaty hands as you think of what could happen. It follows, that you will feel better if you AVOID the party, so you make an excuse and stay home in your pj’s, watching Netflix. But, at what cost? Be Mighty takes the reader through step-by-step exercises in order to become the “The Me You Want to Be.” It uses mindfulness to create greater awareness of what you are feeling and thinking. The book helps create understanding about the “Inner Critic” and why we all have those mean girl thoughts that seem aimed at keeping us small. You will dig into your values in order to chart a clear path, independent of your thoughts and feelings. You learn to get distance from your negative thinking and uncomfortable physical sensations. Here is an example of one of the tools Dr. Stoddard used with me during the podcast. Take any negative thought that you might have; something your Inner Critic might say to you. Mine was, “I’ll never finish the book I’m working on.” In its raw form, this thought feels pretty bad. Then she had me add a few extra words to the negative thought. My new phrase was, “I’m having a thought that I’ll never finish the book I’m working on.” Or, even better, “I’m noticing that I’m having a thought that I’ll never finish the book.” This beautiful and simple tool creates space and differentiates between the thinker and the thought. We are not our thoughts, but we have thoughts. If you want a clear understanding ACT and how it can help you navigate the weird and difficult time we are all in, I recommend you listen in to this interview. As a clinician, I loved all the information I learned from both the interview and Dr. Stoddard’s book. It is not another self-help book that you buy and read 3 chapters of before moving back to your mystery or romance novel. The most wonderful part of the book, for me, was the inspiring data that Dr. Stoddard gave about what happens if women show up and contribute; if they can get out of their comfort zone and into the world. We have all heard the statistics about how women don’t get paid equally for the same job and how many women are sexually harassed and abused. What I didn’t realized, is how many beautiful statistics there are regarding women and the magical gifts they bring to the table. Women treated by female physicians have lower mortality rates than those treated by male physicians. When women are represented on leadership teams and boards, financial performance improves as does efficacy. If women participate in conflict resolution, peace agreements are less likely to fail. All this is motivating and empowering. The facts listed at the end of the book, and there are many more than I listed here, could empower women, as opposed to the helplessness we feel learning about inequality and violence. I wish young girls/women were taught the studies Dr. Stoddard lists in the last chapter, and focused on them when deciding what to do in life. I highly recommend the book and the podcast for anyone interested in the topic of anxiety. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher You can find Jill Stoddard, Ph.D. in the following places: jillstoddard.com Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance Instagram: @jillastoddard Twitter: @jill_stoddard Stay safe! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Overcoming Anxiety with Author Jill Stoddard, Ph.D. appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
48 minutes | May 13, 2020
Approaching Pain to Avoid Suffering, with Brian Bogert
The theme of the past few weeks has been empowerment, and today is no different. The story on this week’s podcast will blow your mind. When my guest, Brian Bogert, was just seven years old, a truck speeding at 40 miles per hour, drove over him, damaging his spleen and ripping his arm off his body. As you can imagine, years of painful surgeries and physical therapy followed. In fact, the pain was so intense, Brian learned to shut it down. He tapped into his resilience and competitive drive, focusing on what he could do, not what he couldn’t. The fallout? He also shut his emotions down. If his first accident wasn’t enough to deal with, Brian suffering a second injury to the arm he’d almost lost at seven. He broke the same arm, badly, while snowboarding. This time, he risked losing the arm for good. This second accident forced Brian to learn that he needed to approach pain, instead of shutting it down. He describes feeling alone after this second accident. For years he had been so strong and capable, no one thought he needed help. No one showed up to help after his second accident. And he needed help. He walked around for days with his broken arm, looking for a doctor willing to attempt the second, incredibly complex surgery. And once again, he prevailed. Brian is a kindred spirit. He is a life coach and professional speaker who works with entrepreneurs and athletes, helping them to achieve their potential. His philosophy is inspiring. Listen in to hear how Brian teaches his clients to approach their pain in order to avoid suffering. What does that mean? It means you approach the pain of a daily workout in order to avoid the suffering of bad health. You approach the pain a difficult discussion with your spouse in order to avoid the suffering of a loveless marriage. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Life is hard, but you don’t get to avoid the pain without creating more suffering. Avoidance is rarely the answer to anything. In Brian’s own life, instead of fixating on his difference and feeling damaged, he looked for ways to overcome and excel. He is an athlete and business owner who approaches challenges with a competitive drive to overcome everyone’s expectations. He comes at this with both gratitude and a positive mindset. Brian works with people who feel stuck and unable to move to a higher level in their business. He works with athletes to help them find their true potential. He does this by helping people with awareness of what is holding them back. He is passionate about helping people defy everyone’s expectations, something he has done his whole life. If you are someone who is worried that you will never be anything but “normal,” that you will never break through to the next level, listen in. Brian’s story is inspiring and his message is clear. We can all do so much more than we think. At this time when the world has suddenly changed and there is so much suffering, it might be the message you need to hear. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Approaching Pain to Avoid Suffering, with Brian Bogert appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
22 minutes | May 5, 2020
Finding Empowerment During a Crisis
I am noticing a huge theme in my private practice this week. People are talking about loss of control and feelings of helplessness. It makes sense since we are all at the mercy of a virus we don’t fully know or understand. We do know that it is wreaking havoc on our lives. It seems like a good time to discuss empowerment as a means of taking back some control, or at least the feeling of control. One of the things I have been focusing on with private clients is how to feel empowered – even during this crisis. In the past, I didn’t understand empowerment. For years, I gave my power away without knowing it. I blamed other people for my problems. Only after a huge personal crisis, did I learn what it meant to be empowered. I thought I’d figured it all out, but sometimes we need to be reminded of our hard fought truths. Last Saturday, I went out for a long run and had an awful experience. I realized that I had fallen back into some old habits. Stress can do that. We fall back on old patterns of behavior that don’t serve us. This week’s podcast is all about my experience of feeling unsafe last weekend. I think it’s something lots of people are experiencing; this sense that the virus has taken away our control. We are all experiencing culture shock. Moods are up and down. There is a sense that the virus has changed our lives and we don’t like it; except when we love it, but now we are over it, but it’s not gone yet, but we want it to be. You can feel how up and down everyone is right now. Saturday, I did what I love to do on a weekend. I went for a run. Especially now, I love the chance to get outside, sweat, listen to music while my feet rhythmically hit the ground. It clears my mind and centers me like almost nothing else. The problem was that I chose a busy time and a crowded trail. But hey, I was going to wear my mask and stay away from people; at least six feet. Except that isn’t what happened. The trail was crowded and almost no one else had a mask on. Bike riders were coming within a few feet of me, breathing hard without their face coverings, and I started to get pissed off. One woman, riding a bike with a toddler, actually turned her head and coughed in my direction within a few feet of me. My head almost popped off of my body. I was trying to do what the experts said to do, but no one else was. I was protecting them with my mask. Why weren’t they protecting me? As I fumed, nervous about being exposed to the virus, I lost all my energy. I planned on running 8 miles, but turned around after 3. I usually have great energy on Saturday runs, but my anger had sapped it all. I got home and vented to my husband about all the rude people on the trail. Why were people being so stupid? Didn’t they understand this virus? Can they really have missed all the briefings? And then it hit me that I had just given my power away. I can always tell when I’ve given my power away because I’m living in blame and anger. I had to sit down and think about how to change MY BEHAVIOR to match my values. In this podcast I’ll talk a lot about why this is an important part of feeling empowered. It makes sense if you think about it. If your behavior and your beliefs are congruent, you will feel empowered. If they aren’t, you will give your power away, (and your self-esteem btw). Here is an easy example. If you value health and you admire healthy people, but you eat crappy food and don’t exercise, you will not feel powerful. If you have those same values and you eat healthily and workout, you will feel good about yourself. You will have a sense of congruence between your values and your behavior. You will be empowered in that area. Whenever your goals, behavior and values line up, you feel more powerful. When they don’t, you will struggle. My values around this virus are to risk exposure in very limited ways. I am not someone who wants to get back to restaurants, massages or movie theaters until we have instant testing for everyone or a vaccine. I miss all of it terribly, but with the science as I understand it, it’s too risky. I want to stay healthy and not infect my father or children, or ANYONE! In order to behave in a way that creates empowerment, I need to figure out what feels reasonable and then create a life that enables my values to work in the world. If you don’t want much exposure, don’t go to a crowded park on a Saturday or a grocery store during peak hours when the parking lot is full. As soon as I realized the mistake I’d make, I took a deep breath. I can still run and still be in nature, without the distress and anger, but it means taking personal responsibility for what happened. If you don’t want to be exposed, don’t go out on the trail on a busy day at peak hours. It was totally predictable that the trial would be full of people on a Saturday. I have seen people on the news, not only refusing to wear masks, but protesting the entire shutdown. I am responsible for making the stupid decision to be out on a Saturday at peak hours. I will not make that decision again. As you read the last paragraph, I hope you feel my level of control returning. I felt no shame or blame about what I’d done; that would be pointless. The fact is, when you take total responsibility for your decisions and behavior, it is powerful. I feel better, knowing that if I want to run outside and not be distressed, I need to go when no one else is around. I can go early in the morning or later in the evening. I can take off my headphones so that bikes approaching from behind me don’t surprise me. I can get off the trail entirely when people get close. I can voice my discomfort when someone is getting too close. There are so many ways to control the situation so that I feel ok, while still getting my run in. This can apply to every area of your life. Identify your goals and values and then set a course to get there. It is only when we live in blame, resentment and anger, that we are giving away our power. By changing my own behavior, I was able to meet my goals, without the distress I felt the week before. Instead of resenting people for being in a different space than I am, I was able to just focus on what I need to feel safe, and thereby create the scenario that worked for me. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Take care, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Finding Empowerment During a Crisis appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
44 minutes | Apr 16, 2020
Why Addicts Use and How They Heal. My Interview with Author Andrew Mann
This week, I’m taking a deep dive into the world of addiction. Almost every family I know has been affected by alcohol and drug addiction in some way. Did you know that every year more Americans die of drug abuse than died in the Vietnam War? This information came from the book, Such Unfortunates, the story of author Andrew Mann’s personal experience with decades of severe, nearly life-ending, drug addiction. Drug and alcohol addiction has been killing millions of people globally for decades. When Andrew approached me about interviewing him on my podcast, I had to think long and hard. My gut reaction was to say no. My own life was changed forever by my 13 year marriage to a man who suffered with opiate addiction. Despite not being an addict, I lost almost everything because of addiction. I was angry with addicts for a very long time. I avoided the topic for years, preferring to put that time in my life behind me. However, it crossed my mind that perhaps this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I would be able to ask questions and possibly get truth in return. I decided to read the book and have a conversation that, truth be told, I dreaded. I didn’t want to be unkind to a man I didn’t even know, but my old demons with addiction kept pressing me close to anger. However, in the end, this interview was incredibly powerful and healing for me. If you have ever suffered from addiction or suffered because you loved and addict, please listen to this podcast. It is real and heartfelt from minute one. Andrew was willing to answer every question with vulnerability, honesty and humanity. He was able to help me see that many of the beliefs I held about addicts were false. Now that he is sober, his goal is to help others suffering as he was. Andrew’s book title, Such Unfortunates, references the subgroup of addicts that even addiction treatment centers have given up on. Andrew was part of this group, spending years living on the streets with a sole focus on getting heroin in order to get high and avoid being “sick.” The book is painfully detailed about what life is like in the grips of opiate addiction. Far from glamorous, his life was brutal and filled with trauma. In this interview, we discuss some of the most difficult truths of addiction. Andrew talks about the inadequacy of treatment centers as places of healing. Despite going in and out of numerous facilities, he wasn’t really helped. Treatment would focus on his plan to stay sober that day, but never got below the surface to ask why he was numbing and why staying sober was so painful. This shocked me but maybe it shouldn’t. There is a multi-billion dollar rehab industry that has always been incredibly unsuccessful. Good treatment centers have relapse rates of 70% or more. We all know addicts who have been to treatment multiple times and yet get right back on drugs and alcohol. I, for one, have always been horrified by the low efficacy of drug treatment, and haven’t really understood it. The topic of addiction is complex. Andrew and I discuss issues of trauma, mental illness, society’s judgment of addicts and desire to punish as opposed to treat with compassion. I was able to ask my most difficult questions and was given truthful answers. Why do addicts lie all the time? Why didn’t you share your history of trauma with your first counselor? Relapse is a sober decision. Please help me understand why you were sober for years sometimes and then chose to use drugs again? These questions and many more were covered during our interview. Andrew helped me understand the components necessary for his recovery. First, he had to be willing to talk about his trauma. He could not heal while hiding the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Second, it sounds basic, but feeling unconditional love for the first time was a huge component of Andrew’s personal sobriety. He never felt love in his own family, so finding a woman who loved him unconditionally was a turning point. Third, the love of an animal and being in a care-taking role with an animal had a huge impact on Andrew. It made him want to create a treatment center that incorporates animals as part of the healing. One of the things Andrew said that struck me to the core was that addiction is an incredibly selfish disease. “You only care about yourself when you are in it and trying to get your drug.” His idea, and dream, is to start a foundation to create a treatment center that uses therapy plus an animal shelter. He believes that if addicts took care of animals as part of treatment, it would force the addicts to serve something else. They would feel love from the animal and be able to focus on helping something outside of themselves. Many of Andrews ideas seemed to focus on healing through connection. I was inspired by Andrew’s gratitude. He spoke of gratitude for his years of addiction as they make him thankful for everything he now has. He is grateful for heat, a driver’s license and money in his wallet. He spoke of being thankful to wake up and not feel the sickness of withdrawal. Things that might bother the rest of us, don’t bother him since he remembers a reality most of us will never know. Our interview will cover his thoughts about why so many addicts have trauma in their history and whether or not it is possible to feel happiness again after years of opiate abuse. We discuss judgment of treatments like Methadone that have the power to give addicts a lifeline. My main takeaway from this interview was that compassion is more powerful than judgment when it comes to the treatment of addiction. Despite the fact that addiction caused me a great deal of pain, I can now see the disease through a different lens. The way Andrew felt everyday, was too awful to face while sober. The pain and anxiety from his trauma was unbearable. I was able to finally get that. Addiction is not something that addicts are doing to the rest of us. It is a way of coping with pain. I feel truly grateful to Andrew for his openness and I hope this interview helps heal others the way it did me. His book is an opportunity for us all to understand an epidemic that kills too many people who could otherwise heal. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Why Addicts Use and How They Heal. My Interview with Author Andrew Mann appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
45 minutes | Apr 7, 2020
How to Manage Conflict With a Stay at Home Order
This week I noticed several changes in my private practice. The novelty of staying at home had worn off. People are starting to receive bad news in higher numbers. The loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs, the loss of security and the loss of freedom is all beginning to add up to stress, frustration, sadness, grief and fear. One of the difficult byproducts of all this negative emotion is conflict. Over the course of the week, I had several crisis calls from people overwhelmed by conflict. I read an article about the increased rates of calls to domestic violence hotlines. The virus has taken whatever stressful events we were already dealing with in our lives and has put those events on steroids. Imagine if you are a couple who recently blended families. As you try to create a new, blended family, at least you have the distraction and routines of life to make the transitions easier. You have school, sports, work, and time with friends to help you cope. Well, you did. That all changed with the virus and the stay at home order. Now the new family gets to be together all day everyday without distraction. What if you were having real marital problems as the virus hit? You are now unable to take a break for work and friends and life. You are home, dealing with the marital issues all day long. What if you were dealing with the fallout from an affair? Even if you weren’t having marital trouble before the virus, you might be now. People are having very different responses to the pandemic. Some are more relaxed, wanting to maintain some normalcy, while others are wanting strict lockdowns. This can create conflict. Conflict is also coming from the stress of trying to work from home and homeschool your kids. Who is in charge of the school? Who has to make the stressful run to the grocery store? You get my gist. This is stress at a 10! The sad reality is that people are dealing with much more than we thought possible just one month ago. The good news is that you are not alone. If you are suffering from grief, you are among thousands of people dealing with the same thing. If you are dealing with job loss or reduced income, you are one of millions facing the same challenges. There is a community of people to reach who can support you, no matter what you are facing. As a psychologist who treats lots of couples, my hope this week is to give you some tools to decrease the rate and intensity of conflict. I’m not a magician and this is a real crisis, so conflict is going to happen. My hope is to give some basic tools to help each and every one of us deal with our feelings and stress in a more appropriate way that will create much less conflict. Here is the truth. Many people will displace their frustration and fear onto their loved ones from time to time. Because we are around each other more, and because our feelings are heightened, there are going to be times we lose our cool. Displacement is a defense mechanism in which we “displace” our frustration from one event onto another. Your boss yells at you and you can’t yell back, so you come home and yell at the dog. Displacement of feelings is going to happen given the nature of this illness and the fallout it is causing. We often take a feeling we can’t contain and share it in unhelpful ways with the people we love. We do this partially because we feel safe. If you lose it with your spouse, you do so knowing that the marriage won’t end. In this week’s podcast I go into depth about lots of specific tools that I use to help couples deal with conflict. I cannot cover all the tools in the newsletter, so I highly recommend you listen in to the podcast. I am going to highlight some of the main, tools I discuss in the podcast. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher If you want to decrease conflict during this pandemic, a few things will be incredibly helpful. Be mindful of your emotional state and communicate this to your family. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had days where I wasn’t feeling ok. I have had two days where I woke up feeling both down and irritable and I couldn’t readily identify why. I knew enough to express this to my family so that I could alter their level of expectations. If you know you are struggling, tell others. Say something basic like, “I’m feeling off today. My energy is low and I’m kind of irritable, so I’m going to work and read and rest.” Communicating has the power to impact how you are treated. You will get support and space and kindness. If you try to hide how you are feeling, your family will be confused when you say irritable things or seem to be avoiding them. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Instead of discussing minor issues that may be annoying you, decide to let things go. How many times do you get to hear a psychologist tell you not to talk about a problem? Not very often! However, people are all starting from a place of heightened sensitivity and stress right now. When you want to scream at your kids for messing up the kitchen for the 7th time in a day, realize that you are mostly mad that this has disrupted your life and your sanity. Be mindful that your frustration is about so much more than the dishes. Yelling about the dishes wouldn’t help and would create more stress is an already taxed system. Choose instead to LET IT GO! Increase your empathy by a factor of 10! Ok, I made up the number, but you get the point. Your kids are stressed, even if you can’t see it. They are social beings who like to move and play and be away from home with their friends. They are all stuck at home and, believe it or not, even they get sick of video games. Kids might not have the language to discuss their stress, but it’s there and it will come at you in the form of rebellion, or sassiness or withdrawal. Help them express what they are feeling. Use empathy as much as possible to see that people are struggling all around us. Don’t take things personally or respond with defensiveness. A tool I use with my clients is to behave like an anthropologist when your spouse or kids are coming at you with excessive feeling. If your kid yells, “I can’t concentrate in this house when you cook fish. It is so disgusting!” remember that you don’t have to let the comment sink in. You don’t have to get defensive. You can wonder what is happening and ask a great question. “I can see that fish is really getting to you, can you help me understand why?” If you get defensive and respond with an equal measure of anger, you have lost the opportunity to help your child communicate. We must all be learning to communicate and puts words to a novel situation. None of us has lived through anything like this before and we don’t know what is going to surface. Be curious! Investigate without defensiveness and you will become a teacher and a healer. And obviously, it isn’t about the fish! Create boundaries in new ways. One tool we use when we need a break is to create boundaries. This is harder from a shared space, so be creative. You can put on headphones and listen to music or podcasts while tuning out your family. You can go take a long shower or a bath. You can go for a walk or run outside to get a break. We need to create new ways to get emotional space and emotional freedom while having little actual freedom. Be creative and communicate your ideas to your family. It will help them have a sense of control over their emotional lives. The better you feel, the less conflict you will have. The more self-care you use, the less you will displace your feelings onto others. Get professional help! If you are having trouble with conflict, please get a professional to help. The funny thing about having a weekly appointment is that conflict goes way down before any treatment begins. The reason for this is because simply adding accountability to a situation shifts the behavior. Knowing that on Tuesday at 2:00, you will have to tell your therapist how you behaved during the week creates a feedback loop that is positive. Then the therapist can give you tools for your specific problems. I could go on and on. Use I statements when you fight. Don’t use the words always or never. And here is the last pearl of wisdom in this newsletter, if by some miracle, you made it this far. Be wiling to blame the virus and all the fallout from the virus for the problem as opposed to your partner. This is a crisis and in a crisis, the environment has much more power than we usually give it credit for. This isn’t the time to question whether or not you made the right decision to move in together. This isn’t the time to question whether or not your partner handles stress well. This is the time to come together in a common goal. The goal is for all of us to get through this together. Thank you! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post How to Manage Conflict With a Stay at Home Order appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
29 minutes | Mar 24, 2020
Why Covid-19 is Bringing Out The Best and The Worst in Us
Over the past week, I have been texted and called with so many questions about how to deal with problems related to Covid-19. People with marital problems are suddenly forced to be together 24/7. Some are dealing with the transition of having lots of free time, but no income coming in. People in quarantine are depressed, stressed out and angry. Couples are having different responses to the Pandemic, leading to conflict. In response to all the great questions and psychological issues that the virus is bringing up, I have decided to do a series of podcasts related to dealing with Covid-19. The first one is all about why people react in different ways to this virus. How many of you are frustrated with the fact that some people aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously? We see people out at parks playing basketball, congregating on beaches or at parties. It makes our blood boil. How many are in the other camp and think this thing has been blown way out of perspective? People die of the flu, 97% will be fine, and we can’t let the economy die. If people would just calm down and go back to normal, we will mostly be fine. There are definitely two camps of people out there, and I’ve decided to do a series of podcasts to help people understand why there are so many different responses to Covid-19. This total change in our lives is tapping into so many psychological issues for each of us individually. It is stressful for everyone, but not for the same reasons. In this week’s podcast, I address several of the major issues that determine how people respond to the Pandemic. These issues, though not a complete list, include irrational versus rational fears, fear hierarchy, narcissism versus altruism and developmental stage of maturity. When a client comes into my office with fears and anxiety, the first thing I try to determine is whether or not the fear is rational or irrational. Rational fear is real and is adaptive. It’s the response your body has when you step into the street without noticing the approaching car. When the car honks and swerves, your fear response is there to keep you safe. Fear is a protective emotion that gives us crucial information. When a client is in the military and getting ready to redeploy, he or she has rational fears. The problem is that sometimes fear becomes irrational. There are people with phobias of elevators and closed spaces. There are people who suffer from agoraphobia and will not leave their homes. This kind of fear is not adaptive. It can make your world smaller and can get in the way of living a full life. What I have noticed, is that some people are interpreting Covid-19 as a rational fear. These are the folks staying home, listening to the doctors and trying to prevent the virus from spreading faster than our healthcare system can handle. The people who are out and about have determined that the virus is an irrational fear. They look more at the statistics that they personally are unlikely to die and that overall the death rate is low. Another difference that people have with fears is what I call their fear hierarchy. If I fear death more strongly than anything else, I am likely to behave like people in the first group above. I will maintain social distance and wash my hands and stay home. If my strongest fear is poverty and unemployment, I will not be likely to behave like the first group. I am more likely to hope that everyone will just go back to normal so I’m not at risk of losing my job. We all have fears. That is a fact. BUT, our fears are different and there are media groups and government differences that are demonstrating all these subtle nuances and promoting one specific stance. Some are promoting a view that says the virus is an irrational fear and what we should be fearing is the economy falling apart. Some are promoting the view that the virus is a rational fear and that minimizing death is what’s important. In addition to our individual differences with fear, we also have personality differences. There is a whole spectrum of personality styles that go from altruism to narcissism. Youth is another factor. We need to remember that teenagers and 20 somethings are different developmentally. Young people are driven to be together. Biologically, they are looking for a mate and their hormones and millions of years of evolution make them want to be social! They tend to feel more invincible and this is affecting their decision making. As you can see, from a psychological perspective, we are dealing with a host of variables that help determine what people choose to do and to believe. The real issue now is that one of these styles will save us and one will kill lots of people. Here is my take on how to handle this. We have a unique situation right now. We are in a Pandemic with worldwide news available. We have the capability to learn from history that is only a few weeks old. We can see what happens if we prioritize the economy over death. Italy was late to enforce social distancing and staying home, and is dealing with a real nightmare. Italy chose initially to take the stance that overreacting was irrational. They are paying the price and the loss of life is severe and tragic. I am not at all blaming Italy. The virus was newer when it got there and they have lots of other difficult variables like people living in multigenerational families. They also have a dense, older population. But even if we have lots of compassion for Italy, we can also learn from them. South Korea, by contrast, treated the virus as a rational and severe threat. They prioritized saving lives over the economy. They have tested constantly, quarantined and been strict with social distancing. They are not seeing the loss of life that Italy is experiencing. We can learn from their response how to get through this faster. What I would promote is using what you learn about the different kinds of fear to help create meaningful dialogue with people who have fears about unemployment and poverty. We can listen to the people who think this is irrational. We can make greater gains by listening and understanding why people are scared. You don’t address a fear of poverty by discussing death. You talk about help that is coming from the government. You let people know you can help and that we are all in this together. We can use a framework with youth that addresses their social needs. We can be creative about how they can use technology to stay in touch and break this down into small, day by day chunks for them. It is not helpful to talk about months of being alone with a teenager. Hell, I don’t even like that thought. What is more helpful is to say that a few days or weeks isn’t going to change their lives. My last thought is a bit more sobering, for those who are still struggling with the desire to see this as no big deal. Narcissistic and sociopathic people are out there and they have great power. Think about the terrorists on 9/11 and how they changed air travel security for the whole world, forever. Think about the man who poisoned some Tylenol pills in a store and changed the way all pills are packaged forever. Evil is more powerful than good. We only exist because good outnumbers evil. I saw people at the store yesterday coughing and sick, defiant and without empathy right alongside people with their babies. I saw a video of a guy licking a whole row of shampoo as if to say it was his prerogative to do whatever he wants with his germs. I have seen pictures of people posing in front of hundreds of rolls of toilet paper as if to demonstrate how smart they were to get there first. This is the kind of stuff that will take us down and make us sick. It will make our grandparents and parents get ill faster. If you stay home, you too will avoid these people who do not have any other interest than their own amusement. You will stay safe. Lastly, I want to thank the first responders, nurses, doctors, grocery store workers and everyone else who is out there when they’d be safer at home. You are heroes. We will forever be grateful that you are the opposite of the people above; giving, caring and selfless. I am staying home for you! You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Stay safe and sane! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Why Covid-19 is Bringing Out The Best and The Worst in Us appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
9 minutes | Mar 10, 2020
Why Do We Resist Things We Actually Want?
Do you ever resist something you know would be good for you? Maybe people tell you to exercise because you will look and feel better, but you resist. You hear people discussing how bad sugar is, but you resist, thinking that those people are missing out on life, all while knowing that you probably would feel better too if you stopped eating sugary, processed food. Maybe there is a part of you that wants to drink less alcohol, but as soon as it’s 6:00, you resist that voice and pour yourself a nice glass of wine, only to feel a little guilty and conflicted. The question is why do we resist things we actually want to do? Why do we resist things we know would make us look and feel better? And, what information can we learn if we are willing to look at and listen to the resistance? In this week’s podcast, I take a deep dive into the biological and psychological reasons behind resistance. I work with lots of resistance in my private practice. I also recently had my own experience with some major resistance. Here’s what I’ll discuss in this week’s Fix Yourself Podcast. ~ How inertia and homeostasis are biological reasons we resist change. ~ When resistance signals that there is ADDICTION present that needs addressing. ~ How our FEARS and BELIEFS can often create psychological resistance, even when we aren’t aware of what they are. ~ When resistance signals that we might be perfectionists or living in perpetual judgment. A few months ago, I decided to ‘fix myself’ around sleep. I had been using medication to treat my insomnia for years. It was so easy. I’m a bad sleeper, so popping a pill at the end of the long day meant I could sleep well. What’s the problem with that? The problem was that I knew, as all of you reading this know, that it isn’t healthy to be reliant on sleeping pills. Sleep is important and yet, natural sleep is far superior to medicated sleep. For years, people suggested I stop taking pills and I would resist in a big way. I’d say, “I’m super fit and eat well and exercise, but I’m not a great sleeper and sleep is important, so get off my back.” This was major resistance and likely indicated addiction or at the very least, psychological dependence on sleep medication. As you will hear in the podcast, I had to get honest and committed to the goal of getting off medication before I could be successful. I researched the most effective treatment for insomnia and started with a psychologist who uses CBT-I, or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. Even in treatment, I could feel myself resisting some of the recommendations. She’s say, I don’t even wanting you to use medication for jet lag and I’d think, “That’s stupid and not going to happen.” It’s funny to look back at my process now that the treatment is over, but at the time it was very bizarre. Why was I fighting a treatment I was paying for? I have patients who resist my recommendations all the time and here I was, doing the same thing. It took a willingness to examine my beliefs around sleep before I could understand my resistance and what it was telling me. I discovered an ambivalence about sleep. I was identified with the doers of the world; the people who believe that we will sleep when we die. It was only after I challenged the belief and realized that you can be very productive and still sleep well, that my resistance to the therapy went away. In addition to my own case, I’ll also discuss a few client examples and how we handled their resistance. Finally, I’ll discuss how to overcome each of these four kinds of resistance in greater detail. If, like me, you have goals that you want to reach but keep resisting the behaviors that will get you there, please listen in. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Have a wonderful week! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Why Do We Resist Things We Actually Want? appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
44 minutes | Feb 14, 2020
Gratitude Leads to Happiness, My Interview With Nancy Davis Kho
This week’s podcast is with author, blogger and podcaster, Nancy Davis Kho. Nancy’s book, The Thank-You Project, Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time, was released in December and has received amazing reviews. The book details her year of writing 50 thank-you letters, how to do your own thank-you project and the research behind gratitude. It is a charming, thoughtful book filled with personal stories and practical ideas. As many of you know, I did a gratitude project of my own just over a year ago in which I wrote 100 gratitude letters in 100 days. In what must have been kismet, Nancy saw one of my gratitude letters online. A man I had written, posted my letter and described how it felt to receive a letter of gratitude. Nancy was in the process of writing her book when she came across the post. She called to interview me about my own journey through gratitude and was kind enough to include some of my story in her book. Gratitude, much like mindfulness, is one of the most popular words in psychology today. It’s like brussels sprouts. We thought they were a fad, but they’re so good, they’ve remained popular. Gratitude has the same staying power. The research is in and it’s clear. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to boost your happiness. However, as you will hear in the interview, there is so much more to gain from doing a project like Nancy’s than simply a boost in happiness. As Nancy and I dug into our two projects, some clear themes emerged. What started as a desire to show thankfulness to all the people who had impacted our respective lives turned into a much bigger deal. Nancy shared how writing the letters helped her to: Move through forgiveness, Have more empathy for her younger self and Rewire her brain to become calmer and more positive. My own process was a bit different as it was sparked by wanting to thank people after my mother’s death. I found that gratitude was able to: Give me a sense of calm from knowing I haven’t left anything unsaid, Improve my memory for my past (you will have to think back and remember to thank people), and Move me through the grieving process in a profound way. In addition to her book, Nancy has a popular blog and podcast called Midlife Mixtape where she focuses on issues related to people who are somewhere “in between being hip and breaking one.” She uses humor and authenticity to tackle issues that people in midlife can relate to. She is a huge lover of music, hence the reference to mixtapes, which are a fun addition to her book and blog. You know you are in midlife if you remember the days of making a mixtape on an actual cassette, sitting by the radio for hours with your fingers near the record button. I hope you will listen in to this interview, which felt more like a conversation with a friend. Nancy has inspired lots of people to begin their own thank-you projects and gets regular feedback about the profound difference it can make. If you have ever thought about starting a gratitude practice, but don’t know how to begin, I hope you will listen to our conversation and buy Nancy’s book. You will not regret the effort, as gratitude gives back much more than it takes. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher You can find more on Nancy on her website, and of course, check out her book! Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Gratitude Leads to Happiness, My Interview With Nancy Davis Kho appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
25 minutes | Jan 28, 2020
My 50th Podcast! How to Achieve Your Goals
This week I’m celebrating my 50th Podcast! Thank you to everyone who signed up for this newsletter and who has listened in to Fix Yourself with Shannon Connery. The podcast and newsletter all started as a dream I had to write a book. To be honest, I’ve wanted to write a book on happiness for a long time, but never believed I could. It took a lot of work fixing my own issues before I was in a space where I knew I had valuable information to share. I started this journey because I wanted to give the tools I’ve used in my private practice to people who don’t want, or can’t afford therapy. Therapy is expensive and time consuming, and not accessible to everyone. Yet, the need for greater understanding about what makes us happy is huge. People are not as happy as they could be. Loneliness, depression and suicide are all on the rise. I wanted to help people understand the components necessary for happiness; the things I give to my private clients on a weekly basis. When I figured out exactly what I wanted to write about, I worked hard to create a book proposal and sent it to a few agents. What I was told was a little soul crushing. In the nonfiction book business, you must become the brand before an agent will sign you. You need a following. Thousands and thousands of followers on social media so that the publishers will be guaranteed that the book will sell. The problem? I don’t particularly like social media. In fact, I sort of hate it. I wanted the information to be the focus, not me! What I did, and this is the real issue I discuss in this week’s podcast, is to commit in a half-assed way. I know that in order to get followers you need to post a lot and have good content. Did I do it? Sometimes, but not really. This week I had a huge epiphany about reaching goals. Too often, we focus on planning and habit change without spending enough time thinking about our commitment to the goal. Lots of people don’t really commit fully to their goals. Here’s an example; “I want to lose weight, but I’m not giving up my wine.” It’s as if we have goals, but we also have rules about how much we are willing to do. What if the goal and some planning aren’t enough? What if in order to be all in, you had to give up your rules and your resistance? I have come to believe that it is impossible to reach a goal without being ALL IN! You must be willing to bet the farm that you will reach your goal, with no doubts and no turning back if you really want to get there. Are there examples of exceptions? Sure, but let’s not bet our lives on the lucky few! I’ve had lots of clients come to me to lose weight. I have helped them create plans to be successful. Still, some succeed and some fail. The “why” has always eluded me. Everyone sounds the same on day one when they create a goal. “I really want to lose 50 pounds.” Somewhere along the way, many decide it’s too much work or they are missing out on too much. The ones who do succeed, I now realize, were 100% ready. Last year, I worked with two women in their 30’s who wanted to lose weight. One had hired a trainer, a nutritionist, a psychologist (me), joined a gym, scheduled workouts and planned for meal prep on the weekends. The other was going to track her steps to 10,000 per day and make healthier choices when eating. Could they both be successful? Yes, but look at the difference in the planning. The first client was demonstrating her level of COMMITMENT to weight loss with all her preparation. She was 100% ready. She would readily have bet me her car that she was going to follow through. To achieve a goal, before you plan, ask yourself some hard questions. Are you willing to sacrifice things you love to reach it? Are you committed enough to succeed even when life gets in the way? If you aren’t, you will end up failing, which in turn will harm your self-esteem and your sense of strength. It’s ok if you aren’t ready yet. Maybe the work is figuring out how to get yourself to a place of genuine, balls to the wall commitment. If you have that it, your chances of success will go up. Another crucial component is re-evaluation. After you have commitment and planning, you have to stop periodically to ask if the plan is working. If I hadn’t stopped to ask myself why I am not reaching my goal, I wouldn’t have had this moment of learning. I will not succeed in getting an agent and finishing a book if I am unwilling to take the time and effort to connect with an audience. That’s it, that’s reality and I either get on board 100% or I’ll fail. I talk through this whole topic in my 50th podcast. I realize with clarity that to reach a goal, three things are crucial. 100% COMMITMENT CREATING A PLAN THAT IS REALISTIC AND SUSTAINABLE RE-EVALUATING REGULARLY I hope this podcast helps you understand why you might have trouble reaching your goals. Perhaps you will need to change the goal to make it realistic and to create real commitment. Perhaps you will need to first find the desire to commit. Lastly, if your goal is something new in your life, like writing is in mine, take time to evaluate and learn from the process. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher I will need to either commit to the process and poor my soul into social media (yikes), or I will need to find a new goal that matches my personality better. I’ll let your know what I decide. Thank you so much for all the support and wonderful emails I have received over the past two seasons. You can find me on Twitter @sconneryphd, or on Instagram on my new account, @thehappinessgain! Please follow me and, if you like my work, tell a friend. That way, I can eventually succeed at my goal. Enjoy your week! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post My 50th Podcast! How to Achieve Your Goals appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
55 minutes | Jan 14, 2020
Are we all addicted to sugar? My interview with Michael Collins
Let me ask a simple question? How would you feel if I asked you to give up all sugar, flour and caffeine? Did I mention that alcohol is part of the sugar family? This week’s podcast guest, Michael Collins, asks people to do this all this time as part of his sugar detox program. Why? Because the research on sugar is showing it to be responsible for a whole host of serious health problems. After his own recovery from addiction, Michael noticed that many people in recovery gain weight, mostly from eating tons of sugary, processed foods. After researching the link between addiction and sugar, Michael stopped eating sugar entirely. He has been totally sugar free for over 30 years and raised his twins without sugar for the first six years of their lives. As a mother, I am awed by this feat. Sugar everywhere in our culture, calling to our children like Sirens. As most of you know, I do not support dieting. The research is clear that most people end up gaining weight from restrictions and dieting. Maybe they lose weight initially, but most will gain it back, plus more. I typically refrain from extreme measure and promote mindfulness and balance. Then I started researching sugar for this week’s interview. What I read, combined with what Michael shared, scared me. What if sugar is responsible for the following problems so many of us struggle with: Alzheimer’s Obesity Mood Swings Headaches Rage/Anger Fatigue Cognitive Decline Anxiety According to Michael, all of these symptoms can be explained, in part, by our addiction to sugar. As a species, we have gone from consuming roughly 5 pounds of sugar a year, to over 150 pounds per person each year. The results are horrifying. Sugar, he says, is often a gateway drug that leads to other addictions. Consuming sugar lights up the same areas of the brain as cocaine. Sugar consumption is changing our neurochemistry. It is affecting us psychologically and physically in adverse ways. If you wonder about your own sugar consumption, please listen in to this informative interview. I was blown away by my ignorance about just how dangerous sugar can be. The fructose in sugar causes a down regulation of our reward systems in the brain. This means that we need more and more sugar to feel good over time. We eventually need sugar just to feel normal. Eating more and more sugar causes obesity, weight gain, diabetes and many other issues. Sugar, like other drugs, numbs us and makes us feel good. Giving it up is extremely hard, since it involves detoxing, followed by the need to learn how to self soothe in other ways. One of the main problems in getting off sugar, according to Michael, is that trauma and other emotional issues that have been numbed by sugar, will surface. Without the numbing, you must be prepared for real healing. You may be asking, “What if I’m not overweight and I don’t struggle with addiction, do I need to get off sugar?” Trust me, I asked this question! I was hoping against hope that sugar could be eaten in moderation. Here’s the bad news, Michael doesn’t believe that any amount of sugar is healthy for us. It makes you crave more, and affects your brain chemistry. For a small percentage of people who eat very little, perhaps moderation is possible. Whether or not you decide to give up sugar, the information is worth having. If you knew what you were eating would lead to Alzheimer’s disease, you might decide to be more mindful. In my discussion with Michael, we will cover a number of different topics, including how to tell if you are addicted to sugar, what giving up sugar will do for your health, and how to move forward if you are as intrigued as I am. He gives real world advice for how to move into a new level of health and wellbeing. Michael has a website, sugaraddiction.com, where you can start the process of detoxing from sugar. His book, The Last Resort Sugar Detox Guide, has helped thousands of people get off of sugar. If you, like me, are always trying to find new ways to improve your life, listen in and consider kicking sugar out of your life, You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thanks, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Are we all addicted to sugar? My interview with Michael Collins appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
26 minutes | Jan 7, 2020
Diets: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!
This week’s podcast is all about Diets: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! It’s a perfect time of year to discuss dieting since lots of us are trying to lose the few pounds we put on over the holidays. Did the extra cocktails, wine and desserts cause you to creep up in size? It certainly did for me. As I made my plan for getting back to a healthier place, I realized that there are so many things we call this period of time when we want to change our weight. We call it a diet or a detox. We get on a program. We say we are making a lifestyle change. Maybe we pick an actual diet, like Weight Watchers, Paleo or Keto. Maybe we just decide to cut a few things out of our diets, like processed foods, sugar, or carbs. This is a time of year we try to reset our priorities and get control of our lives through our weight. So, why do most of us fail? To be honest, gaining weight is new to me. I never struggled with weight until I hit menopause. I am super active and I eat healthy food about 80% of the time. I don’t skip wine, cheese, or carbs, but I limit them. I have a balanced life with lots of hobbies, work I love, good friends and exercise I enjoy. My happiness recipe, PACE, really has kept me from gaining weight and also from the constant dieting cycle so many of my clients struggle with. This year, I spent a lot of time analyzing what to do as life changes and my body wants to redistribute weight to my waist. My doctor told me that most women put on 10 pounds after menopause, regardless of their prior weight, even if they are healthy and exercise. Needless to say, in my head I was thinking, “F*ck that!” Therefore, I found myself in a weird place on January 1st when I got on the scale after several months and saw I’d put on several pounds. I don’t believe in diets, because the data shows they don’t work. They cause weight gain in the long run, even if they help in the short term. So, what should I do? What I did was analyze the last several months. Have I really been living a life of PACE (Pleasure, Accomplishment, Connection, and Exercise)? What have I been eating and drinking and what do I want to do? We are all faced with so many options and opportunities when our health changes. What we decide to focus on, says a great deal about us. In this podcast, I talk all about the choices we are presented with when we put on weight. Will I take the quick route, with fast results and extreme measures? Will I do what I’ve always done, even if it hasn’t worked in the past? Will I take time to analyze things and set real goals with intention? There are good things about health goals and habit change and there are bad things, that pull on our desire for immediate gratification. I decided not to diet, other than to cut out sugar and alcohol. However, as I cleaned out my refrigerator, I felt the lure of dieting. It felt like I could take control. I wanted to throw away all the crap and start from scratch. I wondered if dieting was like cleaning out my closet. There is a sense of satisfaction in organizing your life in detail. The lure took over my thoughts for a day, until I did put a stop to it. I feel like I finally understand the allure to be consumed with thoughts of dieting and obsess about calories and food. I will also say that it felt very unhealthy. Even though I thought I was being productive, it was obsession. There are very productive things that can be done when you want to lose weight. We have so much research on habit change, organization, exercise, sleep and stress management. There are an equally number of negative choices we can take to lose weight like severe calorie restriction, eating disorders, and excessive exercise. The very ugly side can include laxatives and diet pills, obsessive thinking, purging and drug use. I am hoping to inspire some thinking about what is appropriate when we want a health change that includes weight loss. How do you make a plan that will work, if diets don’t work? How can you continue on a health journey if you simply “accept yourself?” I will discuss some practical, research based methods for changing your size, that don’t involve drugs, obsession or severe restriction. I know I am a broken record when it comes to happiness creating real weight loss, but it’s true. I am dead serious when I say that oftentimes the problem is not what you are eating, but why you are eating. If you don’t have a full life that you are loving, you will use food for things it isn’t intended for. As Oprah said regarding her own journey with weight, “What I’ve learned this year is that my weight issue isn’t about eating less or working out harder, or even about a malfunctioning thyroid. It’s about my life being out of balance with too much work and not enough play, not enough time to calm down. I let the well run dry.” This is real wisdom from someone who will always struggle with balance. She runs a huge company and likely lives in accomplishment, without enough pleasure. I hope you will listen in. I have been passionate about health and happiness research for decades. This new hormone challenge will be something I figure out too. We live in a world filled with information, resources and help, if only we are willing to dig in. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Happy New Year! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Diets: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
23 minutes | Dec 19, 2019
Lessons Learned in 2019
I hope everyone is more prepared for the holidays than I am! I will be spending the next few days frantically finishing my shopping, wrapping and meal planning. While I love this time of year, it is often a bit frantic. I think of the holidays as PACE on steroids. We have more pleasure with dinners and parties, we accomplish more as we prepare and organize, we connect more with family and friends, and hopefully, we exercise more to stay sane! I am not someone who loves New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps I’m impatient, but I tend to focus on a problem when I’m ready and not at the start of the year. That said, I do love to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned over the past year. I like to think about what worked and what didn’t. I like to remind myself of my overarching goals and recommit to the work. Sometimes I have to let things go. Sometimes I have to evaluate my resistance or work through my fears. In this week’s podcast, I reflect on the past year. I had a big aha moment recently, when I realized that I have been exhausted. As I assessed why, I learned something big about myself. I have a tendency to think I’m adding pleasure to my life, when I’m actually adding more accomplishment. Taking on too many things, no matter how exciting they are, can lead to fatigue. Here are some of the things I learned this year. ~ Happiness requires checking in and assessing things regularly. Our lives change and what worked for a while might not work anymore. ~ Time and patience are imperative for creating change. I came into this work with an imaginary timeline in my head. It should take a year or two to finish a book and get it published, right? It was based on nothing but my desire to have everything done in a particular amount of time. Expectations are bad. I know this but I have to learn it over and over. As I’ve let them go, I am enjoying the journey more. ~ Creativity is important for everyone. I used to believe that only certain people were creative, and creativity was innate. I had ideas all the time, but I wrote them off. Now I know that we are all creative and that expressing our ideas is what make us unique. Expressing your creativity, however that looks, leads to feeling alive and awake. ~ Gratitude is the game changer. It can change your experiences and make them more enjoyable. No matter what I’m doing, if I take 20 seconds to think about why I’m grateful for it, I change how much I enjoyed it, even after the fact. If I go for a run and then feel grateful that I am still capable of it, I enjoy the run more. It’s that simple. Recently, I was walking with a good friend who told me her daughter listens to all my podcasts and loves them. She even tells her friends to listen. I must say, it made my year. I have known my friend’s daughter since she was a toddler, but never knew she listened. During both seasons of this podcast, it took one story to make all the work worthwhile. There is power in feeling gratitude, power in expressing gratitude and power in accepting gratitude. I am genuinely grateful to everyone who has inspired me, helped me and supported me this year. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Happy holidays and many thanks, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Lessons Learned in 2019 appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
56 minutes | Dec 11, 2019
Does Money Make Us Happy? My Interview With Mara Bruce
There is an unspoken belief in our culture about wealth. There is a belief that wealth is the answer to all our problems. We could be happier if we had more money. All the psychological research has consistently shown that money doesn’t make you happier, unless you are living in poverty. However, I don’t think most of us believe it. As a culture, we are obsessed with wealth and the wealthy. We love watching the lives of people who have wealth. From the days of Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, to keeping up with the Kardashians, our appetite hasn’t changed. We want to observe the way the other half (of one percent) live! The week I interviewed a woman I met 16 years ago at our daughter’s pre-school. She was the mom you wanted to hate because she was drop dead gorgeous, funny, and always in a good mood. She even looked rested and put together. We became fast friends because of our shared love of our girls and a good California Chardonnay. We spent lots of time together while our girls played. It was quite a shock to me, several years into our friendship, to learn that her father was the founder of Pizza Hut. This down to earth friend of mine had grown up in a different world, and I’d never known it. For the past year I have longed to interview Mara about her family and the experience of growing up with that kind money. What could we all learn from listening to someone who lived it? Someone who isn’t fascinated by wealth and who actually experienced the impacts, good and bad. But, given that she hadn’t shared her reality with me for years, I knew she wasn’t eager to talk about her wealth. Mara is fierce loyal and protective of her family. She is not interested in gossip about anyone or discussions of money. Nonetheless, I knew there were things she could help us all understand. The reason I wanted to discuss the topic openly is my own fear that the longing for wealth and consumption is not making our culture happy and is, in fact, costing us and the environment a great deal. Money, wealth and happiness are complicated subjects and here was a good friend of mine who could shed light on the topic in a way few people could. On a recent walk, Mara told me that her daughter listens to all my podcasts. It made my year, truly. To know that a girl I’d known since childhood was finding help by listening into my little podcast on happiness was amazing. So, I took the chance and asked Mara if she would be willing to be on the podcast and she agreed. I’m so happy she did. Mara’s wisdom on this topic far exceeded my expectations. She spoke clearly about the benefits of having money, like the ability to travel and have experiences as a family. She also teased apart happiness and stress, noting that wealth has the ability to take away stress, but it doesn’t create happiness. At one point I asked her if the money had made her happy. Instead of just saying yes or no, she gave me a profound answer. She said that when she thought about her happiest times growing up, her wealth was never part of the equation. It wasn’t the fancy planes and hotel rooms or the giant house with three pools. Her happiness came in moments when she and her siblings were outside playing, making s’mores and running around. She loved family time, time with her younger brother and sister when they were babies, things that had nothing to do with the fanciness of it all. Mara described the family’s wealth by saying it was actually often “heavy” or “like a wet blanket.” Children, she explained, don’t want to go to nice restaurants all the time and sit for hours while their parents drink good wine. They want to eat Mac and Cheese like the neighbor kids. Wealth can be isolating. It causes people to treat you differently. Mara said the reason she doesn’t tell people about her family is twofold. It is her father’s story, not hers, but more than that, it changes the way people treat her. There is a belief that each of us holds about wealth and whatever that is, positive or negative, gets injected into the relationship once people know about her family. It reminded me of why famous people often have an entourage of people who knew them prior to their fame. There is safety in knowing that people love you for you, and not for your wealth or your family name. Mara creates this safety by not talking about her family and living in the present. She told me the story of a friend at the stable she has known for over a year. They spend the week shoveling horse shit and riding. Recently this friend asked a question and learned about Pizza Hut. Mara said she noticed an instant shift and had to say clearly, “I’m still the girl who has been out here shoveling shit with you. That is who I am.” Wealth was sometimes scary or overwhelming for her. Yes, she was able to go to the summer Olympics and hang out with Jerry Lewis during his annual telethon. However, the price of traveling was being surrounded by four armed guards and driving in a separate car from her father in order to be protected. Mara said this wasn’t something she liked at all. As she told the story, I got a clear sense of her perception at a young age, of being without her father in a car with armed men. To be a child and know that the man sitting next to you has a gun under his suit isn’t something that everyone is emotionally ready for. It wasn’t a benefit of wealth but the price she paid to spend time with her wealthy father. Most of us might think it would feel important or cool to have bodyguards. As I spoke to her, I realized that it isn’t something of status. The rich and famous have to be wary of being harmed. They don’t feel safe in public. There are other valuable lessons about wealth and happiness in the podcast. At the very end of our conversation, Mara pointed out that, in her experience, wealth amplifies everything. If you have good intentions and a life that you love, it can amplify that. Her father, for example, loved his life. He was an athlete, and a businessman who loved competition and challenge. He was engaged and fully alive. Wealth, for him, amplified all this. It didn’t create his happiness. He was already happy. For others in the family, wealth became their focus. For people who don’t have a full life, the focus on wealth can amplify the negative. It can create a feeling of entitlement and distort reality. It makes sense. If you want to give to others and have great wealth, what an amazing opportunity. If you are greedy, power hungry, or self-centered, wealth give you the power to do great harm to the world. If you are someone who, deep down, believes your life would be automatically better if you just had vast wealth, I encourage you to listen in to the podcast. The audio isn’t great, but the topic is well worth your time. I am thankful to Mara for putting her wisdom on this topic out in the world. With grace, she discussed honestly, the good and the difficulty of growing up in one of the wealthiest families in America. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Have a wonderful week! Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post Does Money Make Us Happy? My Interview With Mara Bruce appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
35 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
How to Find Real Connection
The holidays are a time to connect with friends and family. In the movies, the holidays are filled with parties and events with loved ones. Everyone is dressed up and looks beautiful. Houses are decorated perfectly with presents wrapped under the tree. In the real world, it’s not that perfect. It’s a lot of work and there is pressure to connect with family, friends and co-workers. BUT, what if you don’t have good friends? What if you weren’t invited to any parties? What if you aren’t in a relationship? What if you don’t have family or have suffered a loss? Lack of connection can be difficult at any time, but it’s especially hard from Thanksgiving through the New Year. I would argue that connection is imperative for real happiness. What are we here for if not to have quality relationships with other people? Most of the psychological research supports the idea that being cared about and connected to others creates happiness and even longevity. We all know connection is important, but lots of people don’t have enough. Loneliness is at all time highs and is on the rise. This week’s podcast is all about how to build quality connection with other people. As a psychologist in private practice, I see people every week who struggle with relationships. The question I always ask myself is whether the person struggling is dealing with a STATE OR A TRAIT. If you have moved to a new location and haven’t met lots of people, but you typically make friends easily, your situation is a STATE. It’s temporary. However, if you chronically have trouble making friends or you have trouble keeping friends, your issue might be a TRAIT. If you have problems with relationships, you are not alone. Despite being one of the most important skills in life, no one really takes the time to teach people how to be better friends or how to be someone people want to spend time with. I assure you, there are ways to evaluate and improve your relationships. Much like everything else in life, relationships take work. To have real intimacy and connection, you have to put in effort, overcome fears, and know what you want. Here are a few things you will learn in this podcast. ~ CLARITY ON WHAT YOU WANT ~ WAYS TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOU ~ HOW TO BE A MORE DESIRABLE DATE/FRIEND ~ TWO THINGS THAT KILL RELATIONSHIPS Please listen in if you want to be more intentional about having quality relationships. It is one thing to have friends of convenience you can go out with. It is another thing entirely, to have quality relationships where you feel seen, heard and supported. The first might allay boredom or loneliness. The second creates safety, creativity and joy. This year, in addition to making a New Year’s resolution about health (which everyone does), why not make a resolution related to improving the quality and quantity of your connections. It will do as much, if not more for your happiness, than losing a few pounds! You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post How to Find Real Connection appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
20 minutes | Nov 19, 2019
End Holiday Weight Gain
With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving next week, I want to address a topic that stresses a lot of people out this time of year; HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN. Before we discuss how to navigate parties and the holidays, throw away any and all Halloween candy still in the house. It isn’t helping anyone. It kickstarts the overeating of processed, sugary foods. Halloween is just the beginning of this season in which we tend to eat more sweets, drink more alcohol, and go out more. For many, the result is unwanted pounds! I do not believe in diets, because I’ve never seen one work over the long term. They cause temporary weight loss, while making you feel deprived, fatigued and causing a cascade of physical effects. Diets can result in lowered metabolic rates, decreased muscle tone, fertility issues and nutrient deficiencies. None of these things is positive for your health. So, what do you do if you want to enjoy your holiday traditions without putting on weight? Today’s podcast is all about this topic. It might seem impossible to go out more and enjoy yourself, without overindulging. However, for years I have been using four simple tricks to avoid gaining holiday weight. Only one of my four tips involves food, and it isn’t about restriction. If you are someone who tends to overindulge during the holidays and then ends up with a few extra pounds and a heavy dose of guilty remorse, I recommend listening in. If you follow this advice, based on research, you will not be as likely to put on extra pounds. I will be discussing four areas that require management and planning in order to avoid weight gain over the holidays. They include: ~AVOIDING SLEEP DEPRIVATION ~DAYTIME FOOD PREPARATION ~EXERCISE MODIFICATION FOR THE HOLIDAYS ~THE PENDULUM METAPHOR The good news is, I read an article that said that most people don’t gain as much weight as previously believed. The average American puts on only a few pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. However, these pounds add up year after year. If you are mindful about putting these tools in place, you can likely avoid any extra pounds while still enjoying your friends and family over the holidays. An added benefit? You will feel better too. I’ll be taking a much needed break over Thanksgiving. I wish you all a wonderful week. I hope you add lots of PACE activities, (pleasure, accomplishment, connection and exercise) to your holidays to get the most happiness possible. You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thanks, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post End Holiday Weight Gain appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
33 minutes | Nov 12, 2019
How do the French eat so much and not gain weight? My interview with Amy Feezor
This week’s podcast is all about food culture in America and France. There is a huge difference! One thing I’ve noticed about Paris is, despite being a culture of food, wine, cheese and bread, the people here do not struggle with weight as much as we do in the states. For two years, I have wanted to understand why. Amy Feezor is an American freelance writer living in Paris. She married a Frenchman and moved to France three years ago. Amy and Pierre recently started an Instagram account called @fedbyafrenchman. They dedicate their account to showing people how to spend only 20 euros a week to buy ugly fruit and veggies, almost past their due, to make beautiful and healthy food. It promotes environmentalism and creativity around food. They use organic, non-processed ingredients. It doesn’t hurt that her husband is, of course, a wonderful cook. This week I grilled Amy about how a culture with the most delicious food in the world seems not to be affected by obesity. Why do they have a crêperie on every corner, but no muffin tops? As Amy learns about food every week from her Frenchman, she passes on his secrets to her followers. The focus of this season of my podcast is American’s obsession with dieting, which isn’t really working, given the recent statistic that over 35% of American adults are obese. Contrast that with less that 10% of French adults. How can we take the lessons learned by this culture and apply them to our own lives? Amy explained some key differences in our cultures. The French are serious about the quality of their food, which results in less processed food and greater nutrition. French people want to know the origin of the food and they keep their diets seasonal. Another defining difference that shocked me was that the French do not snack between meals! At all! In America we are told to keep our metabolism going with three meals and two snacks a day. There are other differences as well. The French focus on digestion, savoring food, and eating with friends. They spend twice the amount of time at the table as Americans do. A typical French dinner in a restaurant takes 3 hours. Lunches are well over an hour. The most shocking thing Amy shares is that French people can eat one or two bites of cheese and be done. I began to realize that in America we do everything big. We build McMansions, drive big cars and supersize our meals. Excess has become our go to! Perhaps we have brought this mentality into our food culture. We have a love/hate relationship with food because we LOVE to eat all the time and HATE the way it affects our waistline. Perhaps hearing Amy discuss the French way to approach food will help you refine how you approach meals. I’m not saying that I could have one cheese and cracker, but maybe not quite so many. Thinking about quality over quantity and seeing mealtime as a means to connect might be a healthier headspace. Increasing nutrition and stopping our constant snacking could be real game changers. Listen in if you want to learn a few health hacks from a food culture that has it figured out. I have learned a great deal about eating slowly and savoring the flavors and my time with others. Amy will give you some real tools to eat more like a Frenchman! You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thanks, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post How do the French eat so much and not gain weight? My interview with Amy Feezor appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
15 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
A Love Letter to Running
Hello! Over a year ago, I completed a gratitude project in which I challenged myself to write a thank-you letter every day for 100 days. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. I learned that the power of gratitude is exactly proportional to how much effort you put into it. Here are a few other takeaways from the experience. Spending your days focused on the gratitude improves your happiness. Gratitude is as powerful as exercise for improving mood, as long as you go deep. Thanking people can deliver a sense of peace and calm. After months of looking for, and focusing on the good, I felt calm and happy. I felt a “peace” that comes from having said all the important things there were to say to all the important people in my life. If I died tomorrow, all my friends and family know what they’ve meant to me and why. One added benefit were the letters I received in return. Turns out, people really do want to feel appreciated and deeply connected. They will write you back. The project was long, intense and exhausting. Imagine adding an hour or more to your busy day, spent writing, finding people you haven’t seen for years, addressing envelopes and sending letters. At the end, I had achieved my goal. I had thanked everyone and was living in gratitude. Shortly after my gratitude project, someone posted the letter I wrote them online. It had touched them, so they shared it. Then I got a call from a woman named Nancy Davis Kho, who saw the post. She was writing a book on her own gratitude project. She interviewed me for a long time and we discussed the power of gratitude. Her book ,THE THANK-YOU PROJECT, is being released in December 2019. I was honored and surprised to see my own project mentioned in her lovely book. One of the things Nancy shared during our interview was that she had written thank-you letters to the cities she loved. What an idea! The idea of writing letters to things, as opposed to people, never left me. Last week, I decided to write another gratitude letter. I had been out running, trying to think of ways to inspire more people to exercise in nature. Running has always been an outlet for me. It has changed my life in numerous ways. Then it hit me. I could write a thank-you letter to running. This week’s podcast includes this letter, as well as tips on gratitude and motivation to exercise! If you need inspiration for exercise, listen in. If you wonder about the power of gratitude, listen in. If you want to know how exercise can push you to face fears, grow as a person and be the friend you need during tough times, please listen in. I didn’t realized how much running had added to my life and helped mold my growth until I sat down to do this silly little gratitude exercise. I hope it inspires you in two ways; to start a gratitude practice, and to get involved in exercise! You can listen to me talk through this in the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below or in the following places: iTunes Spotify Google Play Stitcher Thank you, Shannon Connery, Ph.D. The post A Love Letter to Running appeared first on Shannon Connery, PhD.
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