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Kathy Marshack News

The Two Types of Happiness and How They Affect You

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


two types of happinessThroughout our lives we experience happiness to varying degrees, from being mildly pleased to being wildly ecstatic. A recently released study shows that the reason why we are happy is important.

A group of scientists have been studying the impact that positive emotion has on our physical and psychological well-being. They recently released their findings and the results are surprising. They found proof that the type of happiness you experience changes you at the cellular level.

What does it mean by “type of happiness”? In the study they classified happiness into two types: hedonic (pleasure from instant gratification) and eudaimonic (pleasure from working toward the greater good, a sense of meaning in life or purpose).

While both types of happiness have positive effects on a person, eudaimonic happiness does greater good for you on the cellular level. It tells your genes to produce a lower level of inflammatory proteins and more antiviral and antibody proteins. This has a good affect on your body.

If you have prolonged stress, your white blood cells make more pro-inflammatory proteins. In the short term, this is a defense against infection. But over time this inflammation can cause damage to healthy tissue. 

What does all of this mean? In part, it means that a person who strives to be happy by giving to others and living a meaningful life will be healthier than people who are focused on pleasing themselves. Not too surprising is it? But now we have scientific proof that it’s true.

There can be a number of reasons why a person doesn’t feel happy – emotional stress, family pressure, environmental toxins, biochemical/nutritional imbalances to mention a few. If you’d like to take a more proactive approach to finding meaning and satisfaction in you're life, you can work with a mental health professional to set meaningful goals. Contact my office and set up an appointment if you’re near my offices in Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington.

You can read more about this in an article on CNN, “Your Happiness Type Matters”.

If You Want to Be Happy Take a Risk

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


happy woman enjoying lifeWhat makes you happy? If you were to list 25 things that make you happy, what would they be? How many of your listed items would be things that make you uncomfortable? Normally, we tend to avoid what feels risky, preferring to stay in our comfort zones. Yet, that may not be the best way to stay happy. Here’s why…

In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers listed our Rights as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? The word pursuing involves obtaining something that you don’t have yet. We can pursue happiness by doing the things we know we like. But there is more to it than that. A recent article in Psychology Today, “What Happy People Do Differently”, makes this statement, “One of life's sharpest paradoxes is that the key to satisfaction is doing things that feel risky, uncomfortable, and occasionally bad.”

Does that surprise you that doing what is risky and uncomfortable contributes to our happiness? We all need to experience new things, overcome new challenges that take us outside of our comfort zones to grow emotionally and spiritually. We need to fuel our curiosity.

The article also lists the following four other unique habits that happy people have:

  • They have a balanced view of details, not taking things too personally or striving for perfection.
  • They celebrate others’ successes and build relationships with others who do the same.
  • They have psychological flexibility – they accept negative emotions as a signal that they need to examine and possibly change the situation they’re in.
  • They balance pleasure and purpose – they enjoy life but stay on track with long-range goals.

Happiness isn’t about always being on an emotional high. It comes when you combine it with “occasional sadness, a sense of purpose, playfulness, psychological flexibility, autonomy, mastery and belonging.” Rather than chasing happiness, perhaps the founding fathers should have said “and the pursuit of a life well-lived.”

Are there anxieties or chronic depression that prevent you from fully enjoying life and your relationships? Life is too precious to miss out on, so maybe it’s time to consult with a therapist who will work with you as you discover the best ways to keep your anxieties or depression under control. Are you near Portland Oregon or Vancouver, Washington? Contact my office to set up an appointment.

Learn how you can help yourself by checking out the tips on my website – Depression and Stress.

Keys to Problem Solving Effectively

Monday, June 17, 2013


Do you know someone who handles problems with ease? You might be attracted to their confident yet carefree attitude when it comes to conquering daily challenges. For some, this type of attitude and ability to problem solve comes naturally. For others, it can be a real struggle. If it doesn't come naturally, don't be discouraged. You can learn how to adjust and problem solve when challenges come your way. It's starts with your attitude. Once your attitude has been adjusted, then you can attack the problem.

Keys to Problem Solving:

Adjusting Your Attitude

1. Separate the negative feeling from the positive thoughts. Clearing your mind from negative thinking with give you a clean slate.

2. View the problem as an opportunity for growth.

3. Take responsibility and don't blame others. You can only control yourself.

4. Develop a strong desire to solve the problem.

Attacking the Problem

1. Identify the root cause of the problem.

2. Think, strategize, then act on the resolution.

Problem solving is a vital process to learn and implement. You may need assistance from a mental health care professional who can guide you through the steps specific to your needs. Contact my office for an appointment.

For more information, visit Personal Growth.

Talk Therapy Heals Your Brain

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Did you know that talk therapy has a biological impact on your brain? Talk therapy affects the brain. During talk therapy, an individual learns news ways to think which forms new connections in the brain. Developing new patterns of thinking, new behaviors, and resolving unconscious behaviors are just a few of the benefits of talk therapy.


While medication may be necessary, talk therapy can at times be a solo treatment or combined with meds. Sometimes individuals want a "quick fix" and want to only take medication and avoid seeking out therapy. However, the benefit to taking the time for therapy is that you will learn skills that can help you for the rest of your life. Opening up takes time, but the results are worth it. Healing your brain is a gift worth fighting for. (To read more about talk therapy, read the NYTimes.com article - Invitation to a Dialogue - Benefits of Talk Therapy)

As a psychologist, I offer a variety of Psychotherapy Options including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT address the way people think. The techniques are designed to change faulty irrationally thinking into more constructive, solution-oriented thinking. Often people are stuck because they have an irrational belief from childhood that keeps them from living the way they wished they could. CBT is usually considered short-term therapy, perhaps 8-10 one-hour sessions. Click here to learn more about CBT.

What Our Words are Really Saying

Monday, May 27, 2013


Words are powerful. They can hurt and they can heal. The words we use can give us a peek into who we really are. Words should be chosen carefully.

Recent studies have shown that the words we use as a society have drastically changed in the last 50 years. Individualistic words such as "self," "unique," and "I come first" are more common than communal words such as "share," "community," and "united." Other common words trends include a decline in moral terms, expressions of gratitude and humility, as well as compassion. (To learn about these specific studies, read the article - What Our Words Tell Us at NYTimes.com)

The theme is that the society is becoming more and more focused on self or self absorbed and more depressed. You might want to think about the words you choose and how they paint a portrait of who you really are. If you would like to become less focused on yourself and more aware of your relationship to others, speak to a mental health care professional. You may be in a negative mode that could be affecting the quality of your life and your relationship with others. Contact my office to set up an appointment.

Recommended Blogs:
Working Within Your Strengths - Practice Giving
Reasons Why You Should Cultivate a Grateful Attitude

What Experts Are Saying About the New DSM-5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, is about to be released. There has been mixed response from the medical community about the revisions in the "Bible of mental disorders." One expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that the DSM is the best out there at the moment, but would like to see some changes.

Dr. Insel believes that disorders should be categorized not only by symptoms, but by also looking at biology, genetics, and neuroscience. Chairman of the DSM revisions and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. David J. Kupfer commented on this problem. He said, "The problem that we’ve had in dealing with the data that we’ve had over the five to 10 years since we began the revision process of D.S.M.-5 is a failure of our neuroscience and biology to give us the level of diagnostic criteria, a level of sensitivity and specificity that we would be able to introduce into the diagnostic manual."

Insel and other scientists are looking to establish a new way of looking at and diagnosing mental disorders. To learn more about this subject, read the New York Times Article - Psychiatry's Guide is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say.

Click here to read my blog - How Changes in New DSM-5 Impact Those With Asperger Syndrome.

Working Within Your Strengths – Practice Giving

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Each and every individual is endowed with strengths and weaknesses. In order to find success and joy in life, you must learn to work with those strengths and weaknesses. How is this possible?  


The New York Times published an interesting article about a man who has mastered the art of working with his strengths and overcoming his weaknesses. His name is Adam Grant. He is a professor at Wharton and an organizational psychologist. Organization psychology takes the principles of psychology and apply them to the workplace. He works with companies to help them care for and motivate their employees and also works with the employees to get the most out of their work. Grant is approachable, helpful, and dedicated. He believes that the biggest source of motivation should be found in helping others. His book, "Give and Take" centers around this idea that satisfaction and productivity are linked to extreme giving. 

 

What struck me about Grant was reading about his childhood and adolescence. He was shy, socially awkward, and had a fear of public speaking. Grant challenged himself to overcome his social weaknesses and in the process learned that giving enabled him to do that. He learned to work within his strengths and weakness and now has joy and success. What a win-win situation! I recommend reading his story in the article - Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? 


To learn more about finding success and working with your strengths and weakness, visit Personal Growth

Are You Gifted? Why Knowing the Answer Matters

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Have people ever called you "too intense" or perhaps "too driven"? Or maybe people have said "Why don't you slow down?" or "Can't you do just one thing?" Do you have a habit of starting a new book to read before you have finished the old one? Is there only one person in a hundred who understands your jokes? Have you always felt like you just didn't fit in?   If you can answer yes to these questions, you might just be a gifted adult. A gifted person according to the National Association of Gifted Children is, "someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.”


One major characteristic of gifted adults is that they seldom realize that they are gifted. They may know they are smart, if they did well in school, but many gifted adults performed average in school.  And even if you know that you are smart, the term “gifted” seems extreme. Often times, gifted adults grew up with very little social reinforcement for who they are. When you think differently and act differently than most everyone else you associate with, most people come to doubt their perceptions and thus doubt themselves.


After years of rejection and misunderstanding, the gifted adult has much misinformation about his or herself that may even be described as a “false self.” Through psychotherapy and education about giftedness, the gifted adult can reclaim their true self and find the meaning in life that they have a hidden longing for. 


If you are a gifted adult or believe you have a gifted childcontact my office to set up an appointment. Let's unleash that gift together! For more information, visit Personal Growth - Gifted Adults  and Parenting Effectively - Guiding a Gifted Child.

Science Proves How Hope Helps

Thursday, April 25, 2013


When life throws you a curveball, we are often told to have hope. But is there any scientific proof that hope works? Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of The Anatomy of Hope, says there is truth to hoping. He writes, "Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry. Belief and expectation -- the key elements of hope -- can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation and motor function.


Hopeful people are happier, less stressed, and healthier. How can you develop a hopeful attitude? According to the research of Duane Bidwell, an associate professor of practical theology at Claremont School of Theology in California and Dr. Donald Batisky, a pediatric nephrologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, there are five pathways to hope: maintaining identity, realizing community, claiming power, attending to spirituality, and developing wisdom. To learn more about these pathways, read the article How Hope Can Help You Heal


Hope should not be confused with denial or wishing. Hope requires moving forward actively not passively waiting. If you would like assistance in developing a hopeful mental attitude, set up an appointment with a mental health care professional who can guide you through this process. 


For more information, visit Mind and Body Health - Holistic Health

Feeling Anxious? How to Find Out if You Have Sleep Apnea

Monday, April 22, 2013


Do you struggle getting a good night’s rest? Do you feel anxious, stressed, and/or depressed? You may be experiencing a sleep disorder. It is estimated that one in fifteen Americans have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when the airway in the body is obstructed and then breathing is compromised. When this happens, the body does not achieve the deepest levels of sleep. This can lead to a laundry list of problems including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, suppressed immune system, weight gain, and even cancer and diabetes. 


Sleep apnea often goes undetected. How can you find out of you have sleep apnea? The first person you can talk to is your dentist. A common indicator of sleep apnea is teeth grinding. Your dentist can look for signs that you are grinding. Then make an appointment with a sleep specialist. They can give your diagnosis. (For more information, read the article - Dental Screening That Could Save Your Life


Getting good sleep is vital to healthy living. One of my clients was experiencing psychosis and when he got help for his sleep apnea, he regained his normal healthy self.  As a psychologist I always check the physical health issues of my clients to make sure I am treating the right problem. The mind and body are interconnected and in order to experience overall well-being, we must look at the both areas. If you are looking to improve the quality of your sleep, don't delay in seeking assistance! It will make a difference.   




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