What is Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive Therapy is founded on 3 scientifically proven propositions

The “Access Hypothesis”

The belief that with enough dedication, effort, and help we can become aware of the content of our thinking.

The “Meditation Hypothesis”

The belief that the way we see, think about, and interpret the events around us influences the way we feel and the way we act.

The “Change Hypothesis”

The belief that we can become more effective, functional, and better equipped to adapt to the challenges of life by changing the ways in which we think and interpret reality.

(The Beck, Aaron T.; Dozois, David J.A. (2012-12-13). Cognitive Therapy: Current Status and Future Directions (Annual Review of Medicine).

Hypothesis 1

Hypothesis 1 proves that we don’t have to be a victim of the false and negative beliefs that we picked up during our lives. These toxic beliefs like: “I’m weak” “I’m unlovable”, or “I won’t amount to anything” produce negative feelings.

Hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 confirms that our interpretation of events—not the events themselves—influence the way that we think, feel, and act. This is important: it is not saying that any of us are immune to the challenges, problems, and suffering of life. It is, however, saying that our reaction to these trying and painful events will depend on our interpretation of them. For example, when we face the death of a loved one—which we will all face—how will we respond? We can either grieve them with gratefulness that we had them, or we can grieve with anger, desperation, and depression over losing them. In both instances we will all grieve, but how we grieve will be determined by how we interpret the event of death.

But what if we were programmed to respond to life’s challenges in a negative way? What if we internalized these beliefs and ways of responding to events when we were so young that we don’t even remember? Hypothesis 3 gives us hope.

Hypothesis 3

Hypothesis 3 verifies that we can make permanent changes to our understanding of the ways in which we view the world, people, and events. It confirms that reality-based and rational ways of interpreting reality lead to mental and emotional skills like adaptability, confidence, and resiliency. These things make us equipped to face the challenges of life without being overcome by them—to instead overcome our obstacles—and succeed.

The Process of Cognitive Therapy

The benefits of Cognitive Therapy are gained through the collaboration between a skilled therapist and the person seeking change and health. They first explore the beliefs that are at the surface of our consciousness, and then the beliefs that we picked up when we were younger and trying to learn what the world was like. In order to discover these deeper beliefs, we have to look at our automatic thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behaviors, such as when we find ourselves doing things over and over again, without understanding why.

The real progress is made when we discover the beliefs that trigger our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and put them to the test of reality and rationality. For example, If you were given the message—and have come to believe— that you are unlovable, how do you explain that some people seek your company sometimes? Like a team of scientist-philosopher-detectives, therapist and client uncover, test, and question irrational beliefs like these.

During Cognitive Therapy, irrational beliefs are discovered, challenged, and invalidated, and they are substituted by rational beliefs that can be tested in reality and proven by evidence. When the new beliefs substitute the old ones, everything changes; because real and rational beliefs produce real and rational thoughts, emotions, and actions. And the result of rational thoughts, emotions and actions is a balanced and realistic view of life and people that leads to hope in the middle of loss, new effort in response to failure, and perseverance as a response to discouragement. These capacities to respond to life’s challenges are proven to lead to contentment, joy, and success, regardless of hardship. So we no longer live as victims of circumstances, afraid of what life may bring. This is how Cognitive Therapy works.

Questions and Answers with Juan Lesende

Can you start by giving us a short history and summary of the philosophy of the Adaptive Center?

Juan: The Adaptive Center’s history actually started when I began working in the field of addiction treatment over 20 years ago. One of the first things I noticed when I got into this field is that what many treatment centers were doing was not very effective, and many people were relapsing. After observing for many years what worked and what didn’t work, I decided to open up my own center, and incorporate everything I had learned in my years in this field. On Oct. 27th of this year, we will celebrate our two year anniversary.

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement, which started in the late 1960s in California. The philosophy behind this movement is that we as human beings are born with the potential to be something. Just as a sapling which has the potential to grow into a tree can be bound in its growth by circumstances, so humans can be kept from reaching their potential. Circumstances like trauma, addiction, and mental illness tend to stunt growth and keep people from becoming what they were capable of being.

We use psychology and scientifically validated spiritual practices to liberate people from bindings such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, so that the person can reach their potential. Our goal is not just to help the person stop drinking and using drugs. We want to remove those things so that the person can learn and develop the skills they need in order to reach their full potential in life.

What makes the Adaptive Center unique from other treatment programs?

Juan: The environment we provide for clients resembles real life very closely. We are located in the middle of a city, not a remote, vacation-like location or a campus. Studies have shown that people internalize skills best when they are learning them in the environment in which they are going to use them. We have found that because of this our clients are able to learn skills better and put them into practice more effectively after treatment.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we have a proprietary model. After years of research, we created   a very individualized treatment model. It was created through academic research and real life observations, and is not borrowed from someone else.

We have an entire population of only 12 residents. What this means is we have a lot of time and resources to provide an extremely personalized treatment experience. These people are not just our clients; they get really close to our staff, and we have time and resources to devote to each one’s recovery.

We invest the majority of our resources in excellent treatment, not in window dressing to attract people to a grown-up version of Disney World, disguised as treatment. We are dedicated to the quality of therapists, whom we select very carefully, in their training, and in the research needed to find the tools that will best help our clients.

What specific types of therapies are used during treatment at the Adaptive Center?

Juan: Mindful cognitive therapy: This is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the most tested and effective system of psychotherapy used in the past 30 years.  In this form of CBT, the added focus is on mindfulness—or increasing awareness. We train our clients in mindfulness through Zen meditation and yoga to the techniques of CBT. Very strong research shows that the increasing mindfulness helps people become aware of themselves, and their environment, in the here and now, and adds great benefits to the actual therapy.

System-based family therapy: We have found that this therapy is essential to recovery. The family can bring background information into treatment, which helps us better understand and reach clients. During this therapy we also work to repair the broken relationships that our clients have experienced with their families, so that when they return home they can have a more peaceful and welcoming environment, which will give them a better chance to stay clean.

Morita therapy: This is a Japanese form of therapy that is based on focusing on the task at hand. What this means is that we teach our clients to abandon themselves to whatever activity they are doing in the moment. For example, while hanging clothes in a closet, clients should pay attention to the details involved in order to do it right, not to other things that are concerning them at the time. This focused attention provides them with relief from obsession, cravings, and anxiety. Because we provide clients with a real-life, supportive environment, we are able to help them put this therapy into practice while carrying out their everyday tasks.

Social rhythm therapy: Through this type of therapy, we help clients create and keep a rhythm of their normal activities throughout the day. We have clients wake up, eat meals, and go to bed at the same times every day, in order to set their internal rhythm. This helps the brain become calm, and instead of having to guess what will happen next, the brain falls into a rhythm and provides relief from anxiety, depression, and cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Physical Fitness: Research in neurology—the science of the brain—proves that 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily promotes benefits to the working of the human brain.

You are located in a “real life” environment. What does this mean?

Everything at our facility takes place in a normal living situation. Residents live in a regular apartment building, in a block of apartments reserved for our clients. The apartments are well-equipped, and residents can cook meals, do laundry, and perform normal every day activities.

For therapy, residents walk two blocks to our treatment center, which is housed in a discrete building. They participate in therapy during normal work hours, and when they finish here every day, they go to the gym across the street to exercise. Next to the gym is a chain grocery store where our clients can buy everything they need. We give them money in the form of a card for food each week. The center is surrounded by stores, restaurants and a mall where clients can go shop, with an approved itinerary from the staff. In the evening, residents do homework and can participate in activities like AA in-house meetings or other therapies.

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment—and with the supervision of our staff. We are always here to support and monitor them. The whole system is simple, protective, and non-constrictive.

Given this freedom for your clients, how do you ensure that active addicts or alcoholics are not using substances or engaging in other behaviors that may negatively affect their treatment?

Juan: Clients live in a real-life setting at our facility, but it is monitored closely. When a client wants to go on an outing, they must fill out an itinerary which tells us where they want to go and what time they will be back. If the person has shown that they are doing well in treatment, we authorize that trip. When clients return from an outing, such as a trip to the mall or to the grocery store, the first thing we do is give them a breathalyzer test to make sure they haven’t been drinking. We also conduct a urine test after each outing

If we do detect that a client used drugs or alcohol, they go into a more stringent form of supervision for one week: they have to be accompanied by counselors at all times. After completing this intense supervision period clients resume normal treatment.

Our system helps clients think ahead and avoid impulses. We have found that by allowing clients this type of freedom, and responsibility, individuals work harder at staying sober and have fewer relapses.

How long is a typical stay at your facility and what types of aftercare do you recommend for clients?

Juan: We ask for a 30 day commitment, because we have seen that this is the length of time that offers the best success. The average stay at our center is 6 weeks. Some clients stay for 30 days, or 3 months, or even a year. We work with each client to establish a program that meets their own needs.

We do believe in the importance of aftercare. Our local clients can come back to our facility for unlimited support from our therapists. For clients that are farther away, we help connect them with professionals in their area before they leave our facility.  In the future, we will establish workshops throughout the country, so that our clients that come from far away can attend these as aftercare as well.

2 Psychological Benefits of Yoga That Will Change Your Entire Life

Yoga dates back 5,000 years. It evolved in India as a practice to achieve self-understanding, personal freedom, and an end to the suffering that comes with life. It was designed to join, or “Yoke” mind-body-and-God as one. For this purpose the Yogi/Yogin engages in training the body and mind to attain unity with both.

These lofty spiritual goals of Yoga would surprise the casual Yoga practitioner attending the typical Yoga class at the Health Club. In its modern manifestation Yoga has become a way to get physically fit, learn to relax, improve your balance, improve posture, and other aesthetic benefits. In this article we will not discuss these aesthetic benefits, we will instead focus on 2 mental-spiritual Yoga practices that are connected with our work in psychotherapy: the development of mindfulness, and the development of acceptance.


Mindfulness is the capacity to be aware of yourself in the present moment —where you are and what you are doing— in order to experience life fully. When your attention is in the present, you escape the regrets of the past, and the fears of the future. When you are engaged —fully— in the experience that you are in, e.g. really tasting the sandwich that you are eating, fully feeling the touch of your partner…
When a person is not in touch with their experience and their desires, they fall into an internal state of void that usually gets filled with adopting another’s experiences and desires in order to find direction in life. This “dependency” on others for direction results in anxiety, depression, and “chemical dependency”—commonly known as drug addiction. Increasing mindfulness can put you in touch with true desires, restore self-direction, and put an end to the anxiety and fear depending on others for direction and validation.


Acceptance is the ability to accept whatever is happening in the present moment —in spite of your fantasies and desires to be somewhere else— or be doing something else. People who lack the capacity for acceptance are cursed with dissatisfaction and future regret. In psychology we use the term “hedonistic habituation” to refer to a constant state of dissatisfaction that sets a person up to live in constant anxiety, and envy. As an example consider the typical process that follows buying the car of our dreams. The first few days, and even weeks, we are filled with joy, satisfaction, and feelings of pride and accomplishment. Then, by the time that the “new car smell” wears off, the car has become our normal, everyday car, and we begin to eye cars —at the higher price range— that we now want. You can substitute the car in this example for anything in your life— your partner, your house, your clothes— and the process will be the same. As a result, we live unsatisfied lives, only appreciating the things that we have after we lose them. Instead—through the practice of acceptance—we can enjoy these same things when we have them, and enjoy them to the fullest before they are gone.

You may have noticed that these 2 goals are connected. That mastering acceptance arises out of mindfulness e.g. by living mindful of our present we can clearly see our reality, and accepting our reality—and the people and things in it—we can value their worth. Then we can enjoy them while we have them, and not have to regret not having done so when they pass.

Mindfulness and Acceptance have been principles pointing the way to human happiness since antiquity. Their development have been at the core of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological practices from thousands of years ago to our present. Yoga is one of those ancient systems, available to you today. It serves our clients as an excellent practice to enhance their change into a new way of experiencing themselves and their lives. I hope that it may serve you in your journey.

Being Bored is CRAZY: 3 Effective Ways to Stop It

Boredom is common, and yet unnatural. Boredom comes from feeling that you should, or could, be doing something other than what you are doing right now. In other words, boredom is a resistance to engage in what is around you for the sake of a fantasy. If you think about it, that’s crazy. So, stop being bored, and stop acting crazy. Here are 3 ways to do it.

Pay attention to what is going on around you

Anywhere that you are, at any time, there are things happening around you. They may not be the things that you would like to be happening, but they are there. Even if you are in the middle of a desert, there are things that are happening —that perhaps you SHOULD be paying attention to— like snakes and scorpions trying to crawl up your a…. Would you be bored in this situation? Doubtful. Guess what, neither will you be bored if you are paying attention to what’s going on around you wherever you are. Even if its not as urgent, the environment around you is full of stimulating things —colors, people, shapes, traffic, storefronts…— if you are open to see them; if you choose to be where you are, instead of wishing to be somewhere else, doing something else.


Instead of sitting around THINKING about how bored you are, why don’t you get up and do something? Anything. Open your door, step out, and start walking, get in your car and start driving, get on your bike and start riding. That’s right, without any specific plan, without an appointment, just go. Something will grab your attention. It’s impossible to be bored while you are engaged in movement, why? Because you have to pay attention to what you are doing, and that paying attention will take you away from boredom. So if you are bored, start moving and let your mind get engaged in something other than ruminating.

Call Somebody

Dig into your contacts. Read through your contacts —literally read them one by one. You will come across contacts for people that you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Call them. Ask them what they have been up to. Ask them to get together and catch up. You never know where the conversations can go from there. At best you may renew friendships that lead to new social activities, in the worst case, you had a nice chat with old friends that took you out of your boredom.

These are 3 simple ways to not be bored. Of course, for some people being bored —and complaining about it— is a kind of hobby, and a way to make others responsible for entertaining them. If that is your thing, disregard this article. I really believe that people have a right to their favorite amusement, even if it’s crazy.

Don’t Stress: 5 Natural Ways To Eliminate It

Long-term stress is unnatural. Stress is supposed to get us ready to act in moments of danger, not be a part of our lives for long periods of time. When our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, and they confronted danger, they experienced stress. When they were facing a dangerous situation—like hunting in a new forest—their organism would get ready to fight or run:

  • Their pupils would dilate to see every detail
  • Their heart would beat fast -pumping blood and oxygen to get them ready to fight or run away.
  • Their blood vessels would constrict —in order to reduce bleeding if they were wounded.

In other words, they would be ready to engage in an action that would save their lives.

However, as soon as the hunt was over, or they got eaten, this physical and mental tension, which we call stress, would end.

But that is no longer how it works. In the past 30 thousand years the jungle where we live and “hunt” has changed. Today we live and hunt in a concrete jungle, and the threats to our survival in this modern jungle are not predators of the animal kind —at least not four legged animals. Today the threats to our survival can take the form of non-physical dangers like:

  • Fear of unemployment: which represents the threat of losing the ability to pay for our shelter, food, and clothing.
  • Fear of losing social status: which puts us in a weakened position to compete with our higher-status peers for attractive partners, the best jobs, career opportunities, and the best caves i.e. homes and condos in prime locations.
  • Fear of rejection: which can lead to not being accepted by the other humans of our family, clan, or tribe: which can result in losing mates to love and procreate with, as well as the loss of companions that help us hunt, i.e. find jobs, make connections, give us shelter in hard times, and help protect us from enemies.

When our organisms sense these threats to our survival it gets ready to fight, or run, as it did for our ancestors. But, how do you fight an insecure job? The demands placed on us —by ourselves or by others—to gain status and respect; the pressure to excel at whatever we do, the societal press to become rich, powerful, or famous? How do we fight, or run away, from the threat of not being liked, approved of, or accepted?

We can’t physically fight these threats, and we can’t run from them either. As a result we are stuck in our ready-to-fight-or-run mode; without anything physical to fight or run away from. We get trapped in our physical and mental sense of emergency—experiencing on-going stress. And, the result of this on-going stress results in harmful mental and physical repercussions like:

  • Depression
  • Unhealthy weight gain or loss
  • Inability to focus
  • Impairment of the sensory systems
  • Addiction

So what do we do?

Many people respond to these threats by reaching out to alcohol and drugs, legal or illegal, to get short-term relief from the symptoms of stress. In our culture this search for relief is demonstrated by the billions of dollars that are spent every year on alcohol and illegal drugs, and demonstrated by the millions of prescriptions— that are written by physicians as a treatment for stress—every year. But, these solutions come with a dangerous downside: the danger of addiction.

So,again, what do we do?

Here are 5 Proven strategies to eliminate your stress in a natural way:

Become a good hunter in this jungle.

A good hunter becomes very good at exploring their environment and detecting its dangers. A good hunter doesn’t walk into a dangerous part of the jungle carelessly. Neither should you. You have to develop the ability to be in touch with your reality: your feelings, thoughts, and environment as it exists in the present, not how it “should be”. On-going stress is caused by dwelling on regrets of the past, and fears of the future. Grounding yourself in the present allows you to escape this kind of stress, and allows you to find solutions to problems instead of dwelling in them.

Become the master of your life and your domain

There are many circumstances in your life that you can’t change; but if you are honest with yourself, you will find many that you can. You have to challenge underlying beliefs that make you vulnerable to feeling obligated to do things, or be with people that are toxic for you. Every time that you are faced with the prospect of encountering these situations, your organism will go into fight-or-run mode and you will be stressed. Its natural to avoid danger. You would not go into threatening situations in a real jungle. Why would you choose to suffer emotional harm in this one?

Become the master of your time

You are totally capable to avoid the stressful situation of being late. Practice good time management skills. There are many books, blogs, apps and many other tools that can help you. However, they all depend on the simple practice of allowing yourself extra time, being realistic, not overcommitting, and the following strategy: learning to say No.

Learn to say no

Allowing others to impose their wishes and demands on you is a sure formula for a stressful life. Others will always have needs that they believe are more important than yours. You are the only person in the world that is able to set limits on the expectations that others impose on you, and avoid being put in positions that cause you stress. For example: Don’t say yes to invitations without checking if you have ample time to attend them—including the time to travel to and from them. Don’t double-book yourself because you couldn’t say no to any of two separate requests; in the end you will disappoint everyone anyway. Challenge the beliefs that tell you that other people’s needs are more important than yours; they are not. And, if you feel obligated to say yes, because of fears of abandonment, incompetence, or disapproval—challenge them. The day has 24 hours, and you really can’t please all the people all the time.

Get out of debt

I know, easier said than done. But stay with me here. Look, however you look at it, if you are in debt, the reality is that you will be able to pay that debt only according to your resources. You can’t magically create money that you don’t have. So, center yourself, and accept the reality that you are in. After all the volumes written on how to get out of debt, the most centered, realistic, and wise advice that I ever read came from a classic book called “The Richest Man in Babylon”. Here is the formula that it recommends: Dedicate 10 percent of your income to repaying your debt. Split this amount among your creditors. Call them and tell them that you are doing your best, and that as your income grows you will pay them more. If they accept, fine, if they don’t, still send them the amount that you came up with. If they threaten you, ignore it: there are no more “debtor prisons”; if they take you to court, go; and show the judge that you are trying to pay your debt, in the majority of cases they will work with you. Know that you are doing your best, and feel the satisfaction of doing your best.
Fight the beliefs of being a “deadbeat”, “loser”, or any derogatory view of people in debt that you may have. Challenge the feelings of inadequacy, shame, low self-esteem, and many other negative emotions that these beliefs can produce. You are living here and now. This is your reality here and now. Remind yourself that you are acting responsibly here and now —and as long as you are living as a responsible person— you are a responsible person.

Now —this is very important— don’t try to practice these techniques perfectly— perfectionism is a source of stress. It’s natural to fail as you begin to learn something new. Please know that you are not alone. If you need help in mastering these skills, find guidance. The best sources of guidance in fighting stress are psychotherapy, meditation, and yoga. These practices help you get grounded, increase your awareness and mindfulness, and help you challenge the irrational beliefs that lead to imaginary, or unrealistic dangers that trigger stress.
I hope that this article helps you to grow into a powerful hunter in our jungle, who uses stress as a useful tool, not a source of suffering.

6 Daily Habits to Improve Your Self Esteem

First of all, what is Self-Esteem? Self-Esteem is a term coined by psychologists to describe to what extent a person “esteems”, that is, values, them-Selves. Having good self-esteem is healthy. But when it’s exaggerated and unrealistic it can lead to psychological disorders like “Narcissism”. The people suffering from Narcissism build an inflated sense of self-esteem. They see themselves as “special”. Unfortunately this sense of “specialness” is hiding a real sense of being inadequate, incompetent, and weak. Whenever reality shows narcissists that they, in fact, are not special, their artificial self-esteem crumbles. They sink into despair, anger, and depression. Then, they run to restore their false sense of self-esteem, by desperately seeking admiration, or at least approval from others, often going as far as becoming subservient in order to secure approval. They also engage in escapist behaviors like drug use, acting out sexually, to convince themselves that they are attractive and wanted, or any other behavior that can restore their sense of specialness, and help them escape their feelings of inadequacy.

Instead, healthy Self-Esteem is a sense of feeling worthy, capable, and confident that you have the internal resources to handle the challenges of life. With healthy self-esteem you are aware of the realistic value in yourself, and in people. Because of their ability to enjoy a true sense of worth, those with healthy self-esteem are also less likely to develop mental health issues such as, anxiety, depression, and addiction. It’s then clear that building and maintaining healthy self-esteem is vital to your mental and emotional wellbeing. So how do we do that? Below are are 6 ways to do so.

1. Journal for 20 minutes.

This is the hardest habit that I have ever tried to create. The paradox is that nothing has been proven to work better for you. Daily journaling allows you to ground yourself in reality, show you in how many ways you are competent, and what areas of your life you should be working to improve. It is like looking in a mirror. And the image you get back can be a constant source of information that tracks your small accomplishments, and builds your realistic self-esteem.

2. Make a daily or weekly to-do list and cross things off as you go along.

This is directly related to the above technique, only more technical. This practice will help you focus on your accomplishments, building your confidence a little every day.

3. Sit Up Straight.

Do you think this one is silly? What if I told you that is completely proven by modern Social Science? There’s more. Also take up space. Take up space with your body, don’t slouch, hold yourself, cross your legs, or in any way try to shrink the space that your body occupies. Confident people display a confident posture. It also works in reverse. Adopting a confident posture will make you feel more confident. Standing with good posture – back straight, shoulders back, head held high – will make you feel stronger and more confident in about 2 minutes, boosting your self-esteem.

4. Focus on achieving small goals.

Achieving goals will give you confidence in your abilities to handle life’s challenges. Set a goal early in the day – like getting up without hitting snooze – and you’ll feel the confidence from that one small achievement all day.

5. Exercise.

The other habit that I continuously work on creating. Exercise releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your brain. You’ll feel good for doing something good for your body, and your body will reward you in kind. Here’s the secret: don’t set yourself up with perfectionistic expectations of becoming a model in the cover of Shape magazine. The true benefit of exercise for self-esteem building comes from 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, e.g. treadmill, running, jogging, fast walking, doesn’t matter. 20 minutes will give you a shower of endorphins.

6. Challenge Negative Beliefs.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, force your mind to stop self-criticizing thoughts and challenge it to provide evidence for the truth of your negative beliefs. Evidence based in reality. You will discover that most of your negative beliefs are not grounded in reality; that they are based on fears, and irrational teachings that you have learned, and accepted as true. Once you see their irrationality, replace your negative beliefs with realistic ones. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this,” think “I need to learn how to do this”. Instead of “this is horrible” think “this is unfortunate, uncomfortable, etc.”. Instead of thinking “I can’t do this”, think “this is a great opportunity to learn something.”

Self Esteem is part of your foundation. When balanced it can provide you with confidence, clarity of mind, and joy. When out of balance it will be a source of instability, psychological pain, and lead to mental illness and addiction. The above strategies can provide you with a practice that strengthens and perpetuates a balanced and consistent Self Esteem. Treat yourself good, and practice them.

Tips For Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts-lead to negative feelings-lead to negative behaviors. This deceivingly simple formula has been proven to be true for over 30 years. It is the proven foundation of successful psychotherapy. Its so effective that it’s proven to work on severe depression, anxiety, and almost any psychological disorder. You can put it to use when you are feeling down, or even better, as a tool to sharpen your mind, and take control of your emotions. Here I give you a few techniques, proven by the most cutting edged science in psychology, that will lead you to positive emotions, positive behaviors, and success.

1. Be around positive forces.

The environment is extremely powerful in creating emotions. Think about this; if you go into a room full of toxic gases, regardless of what you do, or want, if you stay there long enough you would get sick. In the same way, toxic-negative environments and people will eventually create toxic and negative feelings in us. Avoid being around negative people who will encourage your feelings of doom and gloom. Instead, enjoy the company of friends and family members who induce positive emotions. If you absolutely have to be in a negative environment, be aware of it’s negative effects on your emotional state, and get out as soon as you can, before you get toxically sick.

2. Focus on your body language.

Walk with your head held high up. Take up the space that you are in, i.e. don’t slouch, don’t be meek, don’t feel restricted and try to not be noticed. “Power Postures” as are known in social science , can encourage confidence, optimistic thoughts — and increased clarity. (for a presentation of Power Postures see the following TED Talk Some examples of how power posing can actually boost your confidence.

3. Write the negative thoughts out on paper. Then, challenge them.

Demand of yourself to prove that your negative thoughts are true. Imagine that you are a judge in a court of law, and demand evidence, not opinion, that prove that what you think is true. Write down all the evidence that you can. You will discover that most of your negative thoughts are nothing more than opinion and conjecture that don’t have evidence in reality. Once this becomes clear, your negative thoughts will loose the power to make you feel badly.

4. Confide in someone you trust and who won’t judge you.

Ask them to help you with the above exercise. Ask them to serve as an impartial judge as you present the case for your negative thoughts. Then ask them to rule. Ask them if they are satisfied with the evidence. Ask them to tell you the reason why, or why not. Not only can this ease the burden of your heavy thoughts, but it can help you get rid of your negative thinking, or be clear about changes that you can make to get rid of negativity in your life..

5. Read an uplifting book or article.

Instead of allowing bad thoughts to eat away at you, immerse yourself in something uplifting that can influence you to make a positive change in your existence. The famous psychologist Albert Bandura proved the power of “modeling”, the power that a positive model can have in shaping our view of the world, thinking and behavior. Seek inspiring models in novels, comic books, films, and all other forms of art. They can be incredibly powerful.

6. Rest, rest, rest.

The proper rest can also give you some much-needed perspective. After your sleep, your formerly troubled mind will feel clear and uncluttered.

7. Do a good deed.

Instead of concentrating solely on your own problems, shift the attention to someone else. Help someone else out. The power that helping has on emotions has been documented scientifically as one of the most important components of happiness. This could mean anything from the smallest act, to acts of great kindness. The result will be the same; an uplifting feeling of satisfaction, and escape from your negative thinking.

8. Now comes the most important of all: Practice Acceptance.

Accept that you are Human. Accept that you are not supposed to be perfect. Accept that life is not supposed to be fun, or happy all the time. Accept that disappointments are not tragedies, that failures are not catastrophe and they are a necessary part of life. So when your thought says “This is Awful” say back “No, this is dissapointing”, and when your thoughts say “I can’t take it”, say back “This is painful, but This too shall Pass”.

You have the power to change your thinking, manage your feelings, and be pushed by your mind in the direction that will bring you satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment. Take it.

Can’t Sleep? Here are 3 proven Meditation Techniques to beat the enemies of your rest

Sleep is as essential as nutrition for our well being. Yet, modern life seems to conspire to steal it from us.
As life gets more complicated we are pushed to do more in less time. The temptation is to let go of some hours of sleep to be able to accomplish more. But you won’t accomplish more. The paradox is that if you skip sleeping for the sake of doing more, you will accomplish less. You will not be effective and efficient in performing your tasks. You will have to do things 2 or 3 times instead of one, as you go through your day stressed, frustrated, angry, and confused. We have to sleep enough to be our best. And here are some very simple and effective ways to take the sleep that you need from the clutches of a busy life:

Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is a simple strategy that increases mindfulness and relaxation. Spiritual practices like Meditation and Yoga are centered around the power of breathing. We breathe without thought all day long, but when we take the time to concentrate on our breathing whilst laying down, we can ease ourselves into sleep. Place your hands on your belly, feeling the rise and fall of every breath. Listen to the sound of the air moving through your nose or mouth. Learning to focus on this essential and repetitious activity will bring you into the present moment, and make the worries of the day move away like clouds pushed by the wind.


Speaking of Meditation, adding counting your breaths to the abdominal breathing described above is an ancient technique of Zen meditation. Count your breaths in series of 10,e.g. In-Out=1, In-Out=2… When you loose count, and you will, gently return to 1. This exercise will increase your mindfulness and focus when practiced in the day, and will to settle the mind before sleep.

Body Relaxation

Now, moving from Eastern techniques to Western practices of relaxation we find the oldest and most effective ever discovered: progressive relaxation. Here’s how it works: Lie comfortably and begin to contract and release each muscle group in your body, one at a time. Start with your toes, clench them as you say with your inner voice “I tense me up”, now release them slowly as you say “I let me go”, don’t forget to breathe. Now repeat this exercise on every part of your body: your calves, your thighs, your stomach, your chest, your neck, your shoulders (where most people keep most of their stress, your arms, and finally your face. At this point, you will be feeling relaxed and your body is ready to naturally fall into sleep.

These techniques will help you gain the power to end your day when you choose. And be able to schedule your rest according to your needs, without falling victim to the worries, anxiety, and pressures of your life. As a result you will awaken refreshed and full of energy to face each new day with new vigor to face them and conquer them.

I wish you good rest

The 5 crucial reasons to not live in the past, or the future

Living in the present is an ancient and universal teaching. A teaching that has come down from antiquity as a ancient spiritual guideline all the way to the most modern research in psychology. It’s the formula for a joyous and healthy life. Here are the 5 main reasons why.

5. Paying attention to the Here and Now broadens your mind because you are willing to accept new experiences, thoughts, and ideas. By being trapped in the past, or your demands of the future, you train yourself to not try anything or to run from everything out of fear, anxiety, anger, or any other negative outlook.

4. Awareness of the present stops you from putting conditions to achieving success. Thought patterns like “If I win, I will be happy” or “If I get chosen for the promotion, I will be successful.” produce stress and performance anxiety. This implies that if things do not go the way you want it, then you are vulnerable to feel like a failure and incompetent, and give up on working towards your long-term goals.

3. Being present is good for your social network because it attracts more people who want to be your friend. People Love to be acknowledged and listened to. When you are present in the company of someone you send that message. People will seek you in order to have the feeling of being paid attention to, and you will be known as a great conversationalist.

2. You can be more persuasive when you are present, and not distracted. You send a message of being grounded, confident and in charge. This will lead to a more successful business endeavor and fruitful relationships, both personal and business.

1. Living in the here and now has a proven positive effect on your mental and physical health. Being aware of the present eliminates negative feelings about past mistakes and fears of the future. The result is the absence of worry and stress. The absence of stress is proven to avoid chronic diseases like hypertension, stomach disorders, heart disease, as well as anxiety and depression. As a result, you will live longer, happier, and fully.

3 Positively Uplifting Books for 2014

A good book can transport a person from a life filled with struggle to a whole other place where they may find inspiration, hope and a new view of themselves and the world. Reading can be a powerful force and should be embraced because the right book can uplift and offer hope while helping us navigate our own lives.

What Is Zen, written by Allan Watts

What Is Zen, written by Allan Watts, offers an uplifting view of reality that questions the prejudices and blocks that prevents us from apprehending the joy of living in the here and now. Allen Watts, a British Theologian that became an expert in Eastern philosophy, is able to translate not only language, but also concepts to make Eastern thought accessible to the Western reader. This simple book has an inexplicable power to infuse a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Hardcore Zen, written by Brad Warner

Another powerful read in the same vein is Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. Warner is a punk-musician-turned Zen master that offers a completely irreverent view of Zen. The  book is full of biographical passages that are hilarious and philosophical at the same time, and demonstrate our inherent ability to live mindfully and free. His teachings provide the reader with valuable resources enabling them to trust their instincts and bring their lives into alignment with reality.

The Fountain Head, written by Ayn Rand

Next on the list of inspirational reads is a choice that will shock the majority of readers of this article: The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand. Yes, the same Ayn Rand that has become the banner of Libertarians and of Paul Ryan. How could a book like this be inspirational? Because in its core it deals with the struggle of the individual’s struggle to live up to their potential; a task that through the ages has been recognized by philosophers, mystics, and saints of all spiritual traditions as the essential spiritual quest. This quest, as it takes place in our modern world is represented by Rand with masterful insight, accuracy, and deep spirituality, in spite of herself. Please try to overcome your previous biases about this author and read the first few pages of this book, you will become hooked on its story, and may emerge on the other side with a different, uplifted, view of the world.

Uplifting and inspirational stories have always been a part of the human experience. Since our ancestors sat around a fire shared them, great stories have shaped our view of the world, our minds and our beliefs, and those beliefs filter our realities, and guide us through life. A great story can change minds, lives, and by extension the world. Great books are indeed powerful!

Happy reading.