It's the holiday season, and I know you are probably feeling a little stressed. So, I wanted to share with you a light-hearted way to grow your validation muscles. This might be a strategy you could even take with you to your holiday functions and family events coming up.
Or, on a more serious note, it might even help you to be able to dive deep into an important topic with a loved one (instead of shutting down the conversation prematurely and not getting very far which is very common!). But first, holiday hours.
Holiday Business Hours:
I was inspired to do today's blog after listening to a recent podcast episode by Dr. Loretta Breuning; specifically the one called Endorphin = Laughter = Improv (1). She is someone I have highlighted in a past blog, because she has the coolest videos that explain your brain's happy chemicals in an engaging and fun way. I also like them since she gives so many practical and simple strategies you can use to boost your happy brain chemicals. See my past post here: Great Resource Alert! Ever Wanted To Understand Your Brain's Happy Chemicals Better? (2). Or, you can go straight to her website to check out her videos here (3).
In Dr. Breuning's recent podcast she explored the topic of improv with her guest on the show. The guest explained the "yes and" principle of improv. This isn't the first time I have heard about this principle, but I thought it would be fun to explore it a little bit in the context of relationships, communication, and validation. Have you heard of it before? Second City has a brief description here about it (4).
There is also a very interesting Tedx Talk on applying "yes and" to your life to increase creative problem-solving and innovation (and the speaker is pretty funny too!) (5):
Just to comment on the above video and apply the info to counseling, I find that when people come into counseling they often feel very stuck in their problems. People frequently spend a huge amount of focus (and time) describing their problems, but often not an equivalent amount of time exploring creative solutions and ideas (usually not even close).
What's your ratio? How much time do you spend learning, cultivating a curious mindset, trying new things, and exploring outside the box ideas? Are you happy with that ratio? Do you feel that there is room for improvement? Or do you feel pretty good about your ratio?
That's why it's so helpful to be open to trying exercises that help you to get unstuck and to deepen dialogue. We ALL need innovative thinking whether it's at work or in our personal lives, because it's a fact of life that we all have daily problems to solve!
Check out this brief video explanation and demonstration of doing a "yes and" improv exercise. See below (6):
Essentially, with "yes and" as an exercise, you go along with what the other person is saying, and then you add to the story to move the same story one step further. If you are doing it in an improv game, it's well... entertaining and funny! It also keeps the laugh lines and story going instead of shutting down the interactions (which would get boring quick). If you say "no" and go off on a different topic, everything would grind to a halt. Essentially, the same thing can happen in our everyday conversations too!
Now, if you are working "yes and" into your conversations (as a general strategy) to improve empathy, validation, and creativity in your communication, you might think about the following:
"Yes and" as a general communication mindset, or when used as an improv exercise, is a fun way to improve your validation, empathy, and creative problem solving skills. Whatever you do, have fun with it! We can all make improvements on expanding and deepening conversations instead of shutting down ideas and dialogue at the gate.
So... Any takers on trying out the "yes and" improv exercise at a holiday event? Have you personally done improv and are familiar with "yes and?" If so, any comments or lessons learned? Please share below! I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for joining me today. Happy holidays!! I wish you loads of love, laughter, joy, and fun. No blog or newsletter over the next couple weeks with the holidays. Talk to you in a few weeks.
All the best,
PS-Can I send you an email about once a week? The email will have a link to my latest blog post in case there is a topic you are interested in. As the business grows and I add more products and services, I will mention in the email what has been added.
References and Links
Hello Lega-Leaders (Relationship Legacy Leaders)! I have a great resource to share with you today that I think you will love.
As I was working out at my house yesterday morning doing some weight training and yoga stretches, I was listening to the Happy Brain Podcast (1) on my Stitcher app and I realized I really need to pass on this excellent resource to the Lega-Leaders out there. I've been listening to this podcast for a while now and I have found it immensely insightful.
But first... Do you ever wonder why you emotionally feel so low sometimes and why happy emotions don't seem to last long enough? Are you curious about some of the neural superhighways in your own brain that lead you to unhealthy ways of relieving stress and cortisol (such as food, drugs, alcohol, video games, spending money, etc.)? Do you wonder how you can change your habits using research on the brain? Is understanding what causes mood changes intriguing to you? I think that Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning's work with the Inner Mammal Institute provides some helpful insights to these questions and greatly deepens our understanding of our "happy chemicals" as she calls them (2).
Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning describes the brain and brain chemicals in easy to understand language. She also has videos to help you visualize what she is talking about. Not a brain research scientist? No problem. She strives to explain the brain in easy to understand ways that help you apply the knowledge to your every day life.
So... I nerd out and always get excited about real life psychological application because this is the stuff that really helps people and changes lives. That is part of the reason why I'm so excited to share this resource with you!
Below are some helpful videos Dr. Graziano Breuning has done so you can start to get an idea of her work if you are not already familiar with it. To access her whole video series on her website, click here (3).
Video explaining the different happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins (4):
Feel worried or stressed? That is cortisol. Learn more about it here (5):
Notice how your mood changes? A video on that topic (6):
How Lega-Leaders can use this resource (Holly's application thoughts and ideas here):
1. Apply this this work to yourself. This is a wonderful place to begin! When you understand your own brain, you can experience compassion for your personal mood changes and also a deeper sense of empathy for the mood changes of others.
2. Use this resource as one guide to help yourself develop healthier habits. Dr. Graziano Breuning says it takes 45 days of consistent daily practice to put a new healthy habit in place since you are strengthening a weak (or maybe non-existent) trail of synapses in your brain.
3. Teach your kids about different brain chemicals, and give them ideas for healthy ways of coping. If your kids are old enough, you might even show them the above videos! Explain that it's normal that we all have fluctuations in our brain chemicals and that life can feel stressful and quite painful sometimes. It's a normal part of everyone's life (there is no need to feel bad, inadequate, or lacking). It's all about developing lifelong healthy habits and healthy relationships that is important here (and what is in our control).
4. Realize that as a leader of kids in whatever environment that might be (as a parent, school teacher, child care worker, administrator, family member, political leader, community leader, church leader, etc.), you are helping to lay down their understanding of the world and specifically, their neural pathways. You might think about the messages you are teaching kids about how to interpret the world. Do the messages promote mental health, strong relationships, and emotional maturity?
We all have room for improvement (I'm including myself here), and we never stop growing and changing. Where do you think you might shift your messaging a little bit? Or, maybe you have some healthy ways of viewing the world, but just have not shared it with others. Share it!
5. Talk with other Lega-Leaders like you who might be up for an engaging discussion on the topic. Share these resources with other people (if appropriate and it's wanted).
6. Have fun! Enjoy learning and growing and be proud of yourself for taking steps to take care of your mental health. I am proud of you Lega-Leaders. It takes guts to be brave and to be open to growing.
And finally, thank you Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning for your contribution to the well-being of society! If you liked this post, please visit her website here (7), check out her podcast (8), or read one of her many books (9). I have started to read Habits of a Happy Brain and I have really been enjoying it (10).
Thank you for being here with me today, and I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! If this post was helpful, please hit the Facebook Like button below or share the blog on Twitter or Facebook. Talk to you next week!
All the best,
PS Can I send you an email about once a week? The email will have a link to my latest blog post in case there is a topic you are interested in. As the business grows and I add more products and services, I will mention in the email what has been added.
References and Links
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The information on this website and the blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. I am not guaranteeing any results.
Please note that the information on this website is not intended to replace or be a substitute for any professional financial, medical, mental health, legal, or other advice.
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MoxiePsychology Legacy is an outpatient mental health clinic and not equipped for emergency services. If you are in need of emergency mental or medical services, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Holly L. Harrison, MA, LMFT