The Heart of Evil

We have had the experience of feeling that we were in the presence of evil. A sense of foreboding, a shiver that involuntarily runs down the spine. An awareness that our expectations of rational behavior in others may be misplaced. As we have experienced it evil may be clever, but it is not creative. At its heart lies fear. Fear …

Making Good Relationships: 4 Behaviors Predictive of Divorce

In a previous post we talked about our view that what is most important in successful long term relationships is not so much who we choose but how we build the relationship (of course, if you choose someone without morals or who is seriously disturbed, this doesn’t probably apply to you). But we deferred discussing what it takes to make …

Stress Eating

Weight gain may be not only a psychological (“I hate how I look, it makes me depressed”) but also a biological (overweight people have elevated levels of inflammation that may increase depression) factor worsening depression. Great, but what to do about this? Most of us already knew that we should lose weight, and more guilt doesn’t help. One very interesting …

Kay Jamison

If you do much thinking about moods and how they affect us, you eventually run into Kay Jamison. She has dedicated her life to understanding mood and its impact on us. She teaches at Johns Hopkins, but she is not just an academic, she is also a brilliant writer and compelling lecturer. She is the co-author of the best one …

Mood and Food

Many people have an intuitive sense that a good diet is a foundation stone of good mental health. We don’t disagree, although the evidence for dietary manipulation’s effectiveness is not overwhelming. There are a couple of things that we have noticed over the years about food and its effect on mood that might be useful tips. For one thing, simple …

Anxiety or Excitement?

Many folks not only have to figure out how to live creatively with moods, but also have to wrestle with anxiety. I have found that it is sometimes useful to compare two states of mind which are very, very similar in terms of how the body is reacting, but are very different from an emotional standpoint. Imagine that you are …

The Antidepressant without Side Effects

Medications for depression can be life saving, but for many people they have disturbing side effects. But there is one antidepressant that doesn’t have side effects – behavioral activation (BA). Behavioral activation is a treatment that has been shown to work for people with moderate and even severe depression and, in some studies, it works about as well as antidepressants. …

Riding the Waves

MoodSurfing is about the idea that the ups and downs of mood are normal (we aren’t trying to achieve some elusive “stability”).  But dealing with moods requires focus, discipline and some common sense. You can’t go to Maverick on your first day surfing and not get hurt (see photo to the right). The first step for many people is to …

Negotiation: How to Deal With Conflict

Some of the best ways of dealing with conflicts in relationships, whether business or personal, are contained in the books about negotiation written by Roger Fisher and William Ury. In our own lives and in the lives of people we have counseled we have often seen a situation that seemed to be incredibly scary and full of potential catastrophe turn …

Getting Where You Want to Go: Remembering Priorities and Problem-Solving

Successful time management is in large measure all about starting with the big things. This is how you go about almost any design and building process. With a kitchen remodel you begin with the major appliances, with a life remodel you build around your life goals. Some people find it helpful to think of the problem of how to fit …

Changing Bad Habits: Helpful Resources

If you talk to anyone who has worked to help people with serious bad habits (smoking, sex addiction, gambling, drug use) they will probably end up mentioning the “Stages of Change” model of Prochaska. The notion that people don’t just “flip a switch” and change was pretty revolutionary at the time, and the useful notion of stages of change: from …

The Importance of Good Relationships

Good relationships are one of the foundations of creative living. In another post, we talked about one of the most effective therapies for people with bipolar: Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT). In that post we focused on regular routines (the SRT part) but equally important in that therapy was paying attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships and particularly addressing …

Sleep: Helpful books for Insomnia

It’s one of great ironies of working with people with trouble sleeping that often the path to better sleep heads first in an unexpected direction. Most of the people we see with complaints of fatigue are having problems because they are sleeping too long, and with poor quality. In fact, most people can get by with just seven to seven and a …