Mindfulness: The Future of Therapy

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Did you practice mindfulness today? Mindfulness is a technique therapists use to promote the practice of good mental and physical health. Mindfulness practice has been said to allow people to be in greater control of their thoughts and actions, rather than being controlled by them.

Mindfulness was first explored in Buddhism and has been spread across Western rituals. It is a process in which we are aware of our present moment experiences. In addition to being aware, it is the ability to maintain openness and acceptance of our thoughts, sensations, bodily states and environment.

Mindless states and mind-wandering has been proven to be maladaptive! Instead, keeping our minds focussed on the present moment is associated with higher psychological well-being (2010, Kilingsworth & Gilbert).

Can anyone practice mindfulness? … YES! However, it is a skill that truly must be practiced till mastered. I am still learning and trying to get the hang of it.

Lets explore 4 things we can do to be a bit more mindful each day.

1. Set an Intention

The most simple step to start is by creating the intention in your mind that you are going to be more mindful. You are making a commitment, so now stick to it! By creating this intention, you are more likely to be aware of your mind wandering and recognize that you should shift your awareness to the present moment.

2. Recognize shifts in awareness

Recognize when your awareness is shifting and your mind is beginning to wander. Correct yourself when your thoughts are beginning to spiral to think about anything but the present.

Many of us tend to think of the past or the future. However, studies show that thoughts that wander away from the present are maladaptive. It can be important to plan for the future, but maybe we don’t need to make “big picture” plans. Look for what we can control and work on presently, this will set ourselves up for the future success we desire.

Therefore, we must learn to recognize when our thoughts begin to shift and quickly learn to shift back and be mindful.

3. Listen to others attentively

How often do you find that when someone else is speaking you are already thinking of what you want to say next? How does that make you an active listener? … It doesn’t!

Listen closely when others speak, this will allow you to pay closer attention as you will truly be taking in what the speaker is saying. Just by listening more closely you will connect better to what is being said and will eventually become more aware of the responses you decide to form. Ultimately this will improve your bond with that person and your communication skills. Listening closely is an important skill for one to stay mindful.

4. Focus on your breath

Breathing is something we naturally do every second of every day without having to think about! When your present mindedness is lost, you may simply refocus by counting your breaths. Focusing on your breath can significantly improve your mind and body connection!

If distracting thoughts arise due to mindless thoughts, try counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale slowly.

Although these are just a few ways of keeping mindful, I do plan to return to this topic again. Let me know in the comments what you do to practice mindfulness and focus on the present!

References:

Hoffman G.S., & Gomez F.A. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. 10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008

Killingsworth MA & Gilbert DT., (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. 330(6006):932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439.

Unmotivated: How to find motivation using Self-Determination Theory

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Have you ever had some of those days, weeks, or even months of feeling completely unmotivated to do anything? I know I definitely have times like this, it can be a terrible routine to get stuck into and is even more difficult to break free from.

The best place to start is to question what keeps you motivated. According to two psychologists, Deci and Ryan, we have two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation comes from within us and is based on the internal drive to reach our “ideal self” that can be based upon one’s morals, goals and values. Comparatively, extrinsic motivation is the result of external rewards, such as grading systems, employee rewards etc..

Deci and Ryan theorize deeper than extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and came up with the Self-Determination Theory. Self-Determination Theory has been cited in literature over thousands of times and defines three fundamental needs that facilitates our growth and leads to self-determination, which are competence, autonomy and relatedness.

What does it mean to be “Self-determined”?

In Psychology, self-determination is a concept referring to how people make choices and manage their lives. It allows people to feel in control of their decisions. Self-determination impacts motivation as people feel more motivated to take action when they know that what they do will effect the outcome.

The three fundamental needs as stated before that are necessary to achieve self-determination are competence, autonomy and relatedness.

Competence: is the need to experience our behaviours as effectively enacted which allows us to feel as though we’ve done a good job.

Autonomy: is the need to feel that we have control over our behaviours and what we do.

Relatedness: is the need to interact, connect and share experiences with others which can also be described as having meaningful relationships and interactions.

Therefore, if we fulfill these 3 fundamental needs, we will ultimately be self-determined and feel greater motivation and mental wellness.

A key factor to being self-determined is intrinsic motivation as stated before. An intrinsic reward can be described as intangible and for example, might be the internal feeling of respect and recognition. An extrinsic reward is tangible and can be seen as receiving a raise at work for your hard efforts.

Deci and Ryan said that extrinsic motivation can taint a person’s feelings about the basic worth of a project and can undermine the intrinsic motivation.

How can we use self-determination theory to support growth and motivation?

The social conditions in which we develop and function in, largely impact how human beings choose to be proactive and engaged. Social support tends to be key and through our relationships and interactions with others we can either have positive or negative well-being and growth.

Deci and Ryan theorized that when the three fundamental needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness are satisfied, humans will then support enhanced self-motivation and mental health. However, when these three needs are compromised, motivation and mental health are derailed.

Behaviours that are purely self-determined, tend to be supported and driven by intrinsic factors. Such as, completing tasks because you enjoy them, excelling at work because you love and take interest in what you do. Non-self-determined actions are performed because they must be done. There is not as much interest or passion in this case.

Feeling in-control, passionate and interested in the things you do will allow you to feel greater motivation and commitment towards your work, projects or goals.

This can explain why some people perform poorly at work, school or in various other projects. The passion and interest to complete tasks must be there and the motivation should be driven from an internal place.

I personally find that the fewer external rewards that are provided either by yourself, friends, teachers, parents, employers etc. can actually allow for one to feel deeper intrinsic motivation and satisfaction. When children or adults begin to expect external rewards for their work or behaviours is when the intrinsic motivation to complete them is slowly lost. The behaviours and actions completed will be less about passion, personal interest or values, and will instead shift towards needing an external reward in order to complete them.

As stated before, to achieve self-determination, one must fulfill autonomy, competence and relatedness as outlined by Deci and Ryan. So how can we improve in these 3 fundamental areas?

How to improve your self-determination:

  • Increase your Self-Motivation
    • Get out of the habit of expecting a reward every time you accomplish something. If you’ve achieved something great, celebrate it because you are passionate about it and create an intrinsic value within the things you accomplish. This will allow you to feel deep meaningful motivation from within.
  • Take responsibility
    • People who are high in self-determination will take responsibility for their successes but will also accept blame for their own failures.
  • Control
    • Believe that you have control over your life. Have a strong understanding that your behaviours will have an influence on outcomes. People who believe they have control over their lives understand that through hard work and good choices they can overcome challenges.
  • Social Support
    • Finding the right social support is very important in self-determination. Strong supportive relationships contributes to greater motivation and well being. Whereas, poor relationships with others contributes to weakened motivation and a poor sense of self.

Comment down below and tell me about some projects that you feel intrinsically motivated to get done. Also comment on some projects that you have felt low intrinsic motivation to complete and only did for an external reward.

Citations:

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

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Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but sometimes it isn’t. In certain scenarios it can be very beneficial to be aware of an important piece of information. However, in others, you may benefit from the blissfulness of not knowing and enjoying the moment.

So then why do we equate ignorance to being blissful? Think about your childhood for a moment. Childhood holds a sort of blissfulness to it. Children are unaware of the burdens and responsibilities that adults hold. Parents hide the obstacles that come along, and therefore, children can go on with their daily life peacefully. Time is a difficult and strange construct for children; as quickly as obstacles come, they go, and they are back to enjoying their blissfulness.

Although these blissful moments are there during our early lives; the truth is, not all children are fortunate enough to always have that experience. Some children grow up in homes where parents are unable to hide their challenges from their children. This can create a sense of anxiety and fear. The bliss quickly turns in to terror as the child is constantly stressed out for the responsibilities that their parents hold. The more knowledge, awareness and understanding children hold about the world around them, the less bliss there seems to be.

Does obtaining awareness and knowledge about life too early take away from the childhood bliss? I would argue yes, that it does. However, I do believe that knowledge is power, and that the child that has some knowledge of stressful situations can grow up making better decisions than the child who grew up in ignorance. When faced with future adversity, the child who grew up in ignorance may not know how to handle it, whereas the child who obtained greater awareness and knowledge would be better prepared.

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For those of us who did grow up ignorantly blissful, I find now that as adults we dream of returning to that state of bliss. To that freedom of thought and mind. Where responsibilities are taken care of and don’t pile up. When I am surrounded by children today, I find it easy to reminisce on the past blissfulness of being a child. I think of ways that I can once again experience that calm and blissful ignorance. Where the most difficult decision I have is about what movie I am going to watch.

Will we ever return to that same ignorant bliss?

We probably won’t be able to return to that exact bliss. The bliss of running in the streets with our friends and playing as though we have no responsibilities in the world; but that’s okay. With the knowledge and awareness we have, we are equipped to make better decisions and face life’s challenges head on.

After writing this article, I almost don’t feel that ignorance is bliss anymore. The child that is well-equipped and exposed to adversity will overcome future adversity and achieve bliss much quicker than the child who lives ignorantly.

So maybe ignorance isn’t bliss after all?

Let me know what you think down below in the poll and in the comments section! I’m interested to read whether you think ignorance is bliss or not.

You Glow Girl! The Era of the “Girl Boss”

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The term “girl boss” has been around for quite some time but has gained more popularity recently. It simply means an empowered woman who knows what she wants and has the determination to succeed. She is busy building her empire in a world that was not made for her, but she works hard to achieve her goals.

I have seen many women start their own businesses in the last few years, but more so within the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more people staying home and having extra time to be creative, there has been a surge in small businesses that are run by women.

Let me clarify though that it hasn’t only been small businesses, it is a load of creativity being unleashed from women who are usually working full-time jobs, managing families, school or other responsibilities.

Women like Kamala Harris and Oprah Winfrey are inspiring to just name a few. They strive for excellence, to inspire others and to create change. Now you don’t have to go and be the next Oprah Winfrey… But I think it’s a great time to get started on that side hustle you’ve always wanted to. Whether that may be something you want to do for yourself or do to inspire others, the time has come to get serious about it!

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It’s your time to shine!

It’s your time girl! I always wonder why I wasn’t writing for my blog sooner but then I realized I lacked confidence to get started and kept pushing it off for “later”. In hindsight I am glad I waited because my passion grew stronger over the years to pursue my blog.

In the age of social media I think the best time to start something is NOW! Social media platforms make it easier to reach more users and achieve higher engagement. You can feel confident having a community of people who love your passion just as much as you do!

Nothing is better than creating something yourself and truly loving it. This could be anything really – baking/cooking, blogging, art, physical products, photography, gardening etc. It feels empowering to have created something and to call it your own. No one else can tell you how to manage it or how much time and effort you should put in to it. That’s the special part about having your own hustle ladies, you can work on it at your own leisure and the more you love it, the harder you will work on it.

If you can turn your passion in to an income then that’s great too, but my honest advice is to never start pursuing something with only the desire to make an income. The most passionate and consistent people turn out to be the most successful! Take Oprah Winfrey (again) as an example – she grew up in poverty but worked hard to pursue her education and career in performing arts and speech communications. Today she has her own television network and has proved herself to be one of the most powerful women, influencing the lives of many – especially women and people of colour.

I’m so excited to be writing about this topic because I feel like I have recently entered this space of the girl boss. Over the years I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by women who inspired me to start my own hustle and be my own girl boss. For those women, I am so grateful, and I hope that this post inspires you to do the same for yourself.

No more holding back ladies! Feel confident and just do it, it’s time to take control and be your own girl boss!

The Fear of Trying Something New

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Are you a little too comfortable with your current life? Maybe you’ve lost motivation. It’s probably time for you to try something new, maybe something a little different that you usually wouldn’t.

It’s easy to lose motivation and feel comfortable amidst the monotony of daily life. I don’t imagine that waking up every day and doing the same thing over and over is good for anyone. A daily routine puts us in a sort of automation and causes us to lack stimulation.

Feeling extreme comfort within one’s daily life can lead to a loss of interest and happiness. Much like when people get too comfortable in relationships. The initial excitement disappears and more effort is needed to keep the spark alive… This happens in your personal life too!

It can be scary to try something new but it can empower you to experience further growth for yourself. I say this from honest and personal experience. Starting this blog has allowed me to experience greater personal happiness and sense of achievement. I feel excited for every post and no matter the number of readers, I am motivated to continue writing!

How can trying something new change my life?

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Trying new things allows us to create further purpose for ourselves which adds to the meaning of who we are. When we try something that we are usually afraid to, it allows us to step outside of our comfort zone. This will lead to learning new skills and finally breaking the daily monotony. As a result, we will feel emotionally and intellectually more stimulated.

Maintaining a habit of trying new things allows us to be open to different experiences. Pursuing a new hobby or skill will allow you to feel inspired. So don’t be scared! This journey will result in a healthier, happier, empowered and more creative version of you.

The next time someone asks you “What’s new?” be prepared to have an exciting response as hopefully by then you would’ve tried something outside of your comfort zone!

Living for Yourself

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When was the last time you made a decision by yourself and for yourself? I can answer that honestly and say that I really can’t remember the last time I was able to fully do that. It’s been extremely difficult for me to live just for myself as I am constantly haunted by the thoughts of my decisions impacting others. Some would say that is selfless and it is empathetic to consider others when living out one’s own life.

But I say by doing that I am no longer living for myself. Instead, I am cautiously making decisions to please others and am sacrificing my own being.

A common example is of the student who graduates from high-school and is then pressured by their parents to obtain further education in a degree that they have no interest in. How can this student be successful in completing a degree in something they didn’t choose?

The reality is that we cannot please everyone and if we are going to spend time trying to please someone it should be ourselves. It’s easy to get lost in the shadows of others and seek acceptance when making decisions. This is an essential psychological need as outlined by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (belongingness and love needs).

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Photo from Pinterest

Abraham Maslow, a famous American Psychologist said that humans cannot reach self-actualization (achieve one’s potential) unless all their basic needs as outlined above are met. So basically, humans naturally seek acceptance and belongingness in order to advance to feelings of prestige and accomplishment to eventually reach self-actualization.

How Can I Start Living for Myself?

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It’s about time you asked!

Who am I?

  • First, you must figure out who you are and what you want. This tends to be the most difficult step.
  • Do you want to be an artist, a musician, an athlete, an engineer? Do you want to graduate university, write a book, run a marathon?
  • Or, maybe you just want to start taking more time to yourself and not feel guilty for doing so.

Self-Care

  • Taking care of yourself is the absolute best thing you can do!
  • Fulfilling your own needs in order to satisfy your happiness can be the most difficult step to take but I assure you that it’s worth it.

Planning

  • Next, you must brainstorm the steps needed to pursue your goals without worrying how it will impact those around you.
  • Remove and detatch yourself from others.
  • Focus on your own goals that are separate from others and how you can achieve them without seeking their approval.
  • What kind of standards must you set so that you can look back and think that you lived a life with few/no regrets.

Accept Change

  • Accept the change that comes with this new journey you are embarking on.
  • Since you will now be focusing mainly on yourself focus on adapting to a new mindset.

Be You!

  • Be yourself! Choose what it is that you want to do and make sure you are doing it for yourself.
  • If you feel the need to seek acceptance or approval then you’re probably doing it wrong and need to start over.

By following this process your happiness will flourish two-fold and you will begin to live for yourself. Although this post is about living for yourself, you will see that once you do, those who love you will be happy for you and their approval (although not necessary) will come naturally, as your success becomes the success of your family and closest friends too.

Be proud of the life you are living and begin to live for yourself & not others! Happy Friday!

Comment down below any thoughts or feedback! Make sure to share this post with your friends and family.

“We Become What we Commit to” – Sam Demma

Image of Sam Demma photographed by Francesca Demma

Sam Demma’s life turned upside down after he endured 3 knee injuries and tore the cartilage in his right hip. He had a full-ride scholarship to a top university in the States to pursue his dream to play soccer. However, it had to be given up as playing the sport became strenuous. He quickly realized that he had lost his path and had been attaching his identity to the sport. “Who am I”, thought Sam, as he had just spent his complete high school career believing he would pursue soccer professionally.

“I felt like I was doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”

Sam Demma

“I felt like I was doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”, said Sam after he spent a month at the University of Toronto to pursue an undergraduate degree. He felt he was following social norms and doing what the rest of the students do upon graduating from high school — A psychological phenomenon called “social proof”.

Sam decided to leave university to pursue his passion for public speaking and is now a board director for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.

Image of Sam Demma photographed at DECA Ontario by Brandon Ferg

“The grass is greener where you water it”

Sam Demma

“The grass is greener where you water it”, said Sam, after realizing that the more time he spent public speaking would flourish and create greater opportunities. Sam speaks effortlessly with great confidence and his hard work and small consistent actions have paid off towards his career. Sam’s speeches captivate audiences of all ages and has inspired individuals towards taking steps that will leave an everlasting impact on their lives.

Check out the links down below to listen to my interview with Sam Demma where we discuss habit building, goal setting, perseverance and learn more about his journey to entrepreneurship!

Check out Sam’s website and his 2021 graduation speech linked below!

Website: https://samdemma.com/

Wholesome Habits

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In the past it’s been very difficult for me to form new habits. I have been through many seasons of habit formation which have then been followed by a slow and very unfortunate decline. Very often, I blame this on the fact that “something came up” and I pay less attention to pursuing what I had initially set out to do. Admittedly, sometimes nothing comes up and I just become lazy.

I was recommended in 2020 (by a wonderful person) to read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I had been going through a tough time personally and I wanted to form new habits to achieve greater awareness of myself within a present moment (mindfulness).

This book really evolved my habit formation process. Clear’s mantra is to accomplish small habits daily. By doing this, your new positive habits will become second nature and lead to personal success. This book was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a positive change.

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So I started doing exactly that. Every day I made my bed, I wrote in a journal, I said a prayer, and created a daily gratitude list. After doing these tasks for 2 weeks it began to feel like second nature. I started looking forward to it and it no longer felt like a chore.

A very important piece of this process that I learned from the book was to create a list of my current habits and then rank them as positive, negative or neutral. After realizing that a lot of my habits were negative (such as waking up and immediately checking social media), I created a list of habits that were closer to the ideal version of who I want to be.

I want to invite you to try and build 2 wholesome habits that you can achieve daily. This may be a challenge but it can be as small as making your bed each morning or washing your face each night. It might help to also create a list and rank your own habits in order to reduce the negative and make room for more positive ones.

Leave a comment down below mentioning 2 positive habits that you will try to endeavour!

WELCOME!

Hello,

Welcome to The Daily Dash! I’m starting this blog for various reasons. The most important reason being that I’ve been wanting to for many years and have decided that there is no better time to start something than NOW!

I am trying to be more of that “If you want to do something then just do it” type of person. I am 21 years old and have just finished my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto. I have a deep passion for psychology and am excited to write about and discuss various topics related to wellness in this blog! I will use this space to write about my journey to bettering my mental health and hope to inspire you along the way!

I will be posting twice weekly so stay tuned for more and make sure to join in on the conversation!

~ Riya