Is Your Phone Ruining Your Life?

Does that idea scare you? Do you even care?

Guess what? You have likely already been programmed to pay more attention to your phone than anything else--including your kids, family, and friends--so right about now you may be thinking about clicking away from this page, about not reading what follows. Don't worry, that's a natural reaction to being told your favorite thing is bad for you. If you are curious about this phenomenon, if it actually does scare you, even just a little, read on.

As data surrounding the the impact of digital devices and the apps we use is collected and analyzed, a cohesive developmental picture is emerging, and the world is becoming aware of just how harmful smartphones can be. Today's infants and toddlers develop differently because of the decreased attention they get from phone-addicted parents. As a therapist who specializes in relationships between families, couples, and individuals, I am here to tell you the the impact of smartphones on our relationships (of all kinds) is indeed significant. We make jokes: "Remember in the 90s when you had to actually call someone on the phone?" But such statements are not actually jokes--we laugh as a coping mechanism because they make us nervous and anxious about the loss of human connection ...and then we share memes about them on social media and wait for the likes to pour in.

The Globe and Mail has compiled a fantastic article about all this. I invite you to give it a read: Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can't you put it down⁉️

Unplugging: Essential To Job Satisfaction & Morale



Unplugging means not working when you are on vacation. And btw, your days off (incl. weekends) count, too. As the holiday season is upon us, this is a particularly relevant topic right about about now. Companies which do not support a culture of unplugging tend to have employees who are less loyal, happy, and committed to their jobs. n fact, a lot of of them probably wish they had a different job.

This short article from the Harvard Business Review sums it up nicely, highlighting the harm sending even a single work-related email while you are on vacation can do to your corporate culture. Give it a quick (3 min) read, then, if it you are off today ...unplug.

Harvard Business Review: Emailing While You're on Vacation is a Quick Way to Ruin Company Culture

Angry-looking cars: expressions of what?

Why So Serious?

In recent years, I have noticed cars evolving in many ways. One of which is anthropomorphic: their "faces".  Many current cars look mean or angry. What does this say about us? Why do so many of us apparently want to drive something that looks intimidating to other drivers in their rear-view mirrors? This short article from Road & Track asks this question, discusses the trend, and uses a powerful road-rage encounter story to demonstrate, both anecdotally and literally, the notion that perhaps angry cars and aggressive driving/road rage are vivid social commentary for our frustrations and fears. A brilliant read.

Article: Road & Track

Image attribution: Accord14CC BY-SA 4.0


Your phone is not your friend. No, really--it's not.

I'll keep this short because I know you have better things to do.

If your phone spends more time in your hand than it does in your pocket or purse, you are missing out on the best parts of your life. Many of us spend so much time staring at our phones that the really important things--things that give us joy, things that really matter--happen in the background, outside our minuscule bubble of attention. A good metaphor might be missing the sound of laughter at the pool while you are underwater.

Imagine you are watching a sporting event and you happen to also be checking out your Facebook feed or posting on Instagram. And--your team just scored! But you only realized it when you heard the cheering around you. Wasn't your reason for going in the first place to enjoy the experience of watching the game and cheering for your team when they score? And you missed it. They just won the game and you didn't even see it because you were texting your BFF.

But what if that was your daughter's soccer game? Multiply the regret you feel by a factor of a gazillion--and wait, it gets worse. What if she had been the one who scored the goal? Thanks, Facebook. One thing is certain: she was not on her phone while when she scored that goal. She was engaged in life, enjoying herself, accomplishing something really great. And most importantly ...she was not on her phone.

If she had been, scoring that goal would not have been possible.

Think about that for a minute.

Where is your phone right now? Are you reading this on it? I don't care if you don't read the rest of this. Put it away. Go live your life. You're missing it. You really are.

In fact, you know what? I'm done. I am ending this little chat right now so you have the perfect excuse to put your phone away and do something meaningful. Go engage in your life. You can thank me later. In person.

Image credit: farhad sadykov: "phone addiction"

New office!

I have exciting news! We have now fully moved into our new, larger office on Ventura Blvd in Encino. Our therapy group, Change Within Reach, Inc., now has six therapy suites where our therapists meet with clients. Below are a few images of our new offices. Please contact me with any questions about our cool new digs, or to inquire about our family, couples, and individual therapy services.

The brainwashing of our sons. Or, not.

If you have a son, are a son, or know someone who has or is a son, please--please give me 3 minutes. The things we say to our sons, the expectations we set, and the examples and role models we provide are destroying their ability to be happy, to grow up to be the kind of men--the kind of people and fathers we wish for--that their sons deserve. This is quite possibly the most important 3 minutes of your (son's) life.

This is *really* important. Please watch and share broadly. At the time of this post, the full movie streams on Netflix in the US. This link is to the trailer (note: contains strong language):

The Mask You Live In (Trailer)

Thanks for reading, and watching.

Image attribution: Jason Regan -

4 Minutes Can Change Everything

When was the last time you felt really connected with your husband, wife, or partner? SoulPancake's curious 4-minute experiment, chronicled in this quick video (link below), asks couples (and even strangers!) to look each other in the eye for four minutes. The results are astounding.

While there are no quick fixes most relationship issues, this simple exercise can be a fantastic way to find that connection you seek with your partner. It can feel like magic. I have had couples do this with amazing results. This is so powerful, yet so simple anyone can do it. You really only need 4 minutes. Check out the the video below, then grab your significant other and have a seat.

Warning: this is really powerful. This really could change stuff. At the very least, it will allow you to connect in a new, intimate way. Here's the link:

The most powerful 4 minutes ever

Thanks to (and image attribution) SoulPancake!


Is the Increase In ADHD Really An epedimic?

(Image:  Pixelbay )

Food for thought...

Is the increase in ADHD really an epidemic? And if so, an epidemic of what? Attention-deficit?  Hyperactivity? (Together, "Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder" or ADHD.) Or are we looking at an epidemic of something else?

When a disorder or condition is suddenly diagnosed with a dramatic increase in frequency, as has been the case with ADHD in recent years, something is clearly wrong; something has changed. The question is: what? Have our children suddenly become highly susceptible to this condition? Or are there other reasons why the number of ADHD diagnosis have increased by 43 percent since 2003?

The New York Times states in a brilliant 2013 article questioning the "ADHD Epidemmic" that "Most children are given the diagnosis on the basis of a short visit with their pediatrician. In fact, the diagnosis can be as simple as prescribing Ritalin to a child and telling the parents to see if it helps improve their school performance."  The article goes on to cite alarming research findings, notably: "Nationwide, the rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis increased by 22 percent in the first four years after No Child Left Behind was implemented" The other article I link to below (the impetus behind this post), and the NYT article both examine the effects of sociological factors, specifically the expectations of parents and educators, and of overarching educational policy upon the increased rate of ADHD diagnosis. Both are worth reading, it is my hope you will do so.

I do not mean to suggest ADD and ADHD are not very real disorders. They are, and biological factors have indeed been identified, including differences in brain structure and genetic traits (I am not citing research here, but feel free to look it up--it is out there). These throught-provoking articles suggest other factors may be responsible for the the dramatic increase in ADHD diagnosis in the past two decades: the education system our children are subjected to, the expectations of parents, the massive influence of the pharmaceutical industry, and fundamental flaws in the education system itself. Both articles provide much food for thought, suggesting things are not perhaps functioning the way they should be, or, importantly, even the way we perceive them to be.

Before we accept a diagnosis of ADHD for a child, these articles suggest we take a good long look at the environment they are struggling in and ask if the deficit lies not with the child, but with the education and health care systems, as well as society itself ...and our own expectations of both our children and the education system. One of my favorite quotes from the CE article is "The issue here really seems to be the environment the children are surrounded by, not the children themselves".

It is up to us: the consumers, parents, medical and mental health professionals, and educators to be the agents of change. Is there a chance that your child genuinely has ADHD? Absolutely. That said, I urge you to get them properly evaluated and tested before accepting that diagnosis. There may be other significant factors involved in their struggle--factors medication cannot address.

Got five minutes? Here's the link:

And here is another link the New York Times piece: 

Thanks for reading!

(Image: Pixlebay)

The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans)

Image Credit David Lofin

I thought with the holiday season in full swing, and all the attention paid to sugary good eats (gingerbread houses, sufganiyot, candy canes, etc.), we might want to talk about something really important (in addition to brushing your teeth!) ...jelly beans.

It is the job of this post, and ZeFrank's video, to make you think. About your life, the time you spend awake, asleep, and everything in between, and how you spend it. What did you do today? Yesterday? Last week? Do you remember? Was it a worthwhile use of your time? What will you do tomorrow? Will you spend those 24 hours doing things that have real meaning for you? How about the day after that? How about the next 60 seconds? Whatever you do, I encourage you to spend the next 2 minutes and 44 seconds watching this video. Who knows? Maybe it will change something for you. :) Regardless, please remember to brush.

Nod and thanks to zefrank1 for this one. It has definitely made the rounds in the past, but even if you have already seen it, it is well worth re-watching.

The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans)

Do you have a book in you?

NaNoWriMo: an exercise in digging deep (to find and harness your creative energy!)

Bonus: join a thriving global community of people just like you, working toward the same goal, with the same deadline, all cheering each other on! And it is 100% free.

Yes folks, it is that time of year again. I am not talking about the pumpkin spice madness which seems to take over everyone's taste buds (not to mention Pinterest!) at this time of year. No, it's November, and I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. If you have not heard of this miracle of creative expression, let me enlighten you:

Ever wanted to write a book? You can. I'm quite serious. I did it. My friends have done it. Tens of thousands of people do it every year in November--and they do it together. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Wait--is this some sort of weird cult? Nope. NaNoWriMo is a very real thing, and it totally cool. The non-profit that runs it (The Office of Letters & Light) are an amazing, dedicated bunch.

Interested? It is entirely free (although they love donations). They have a kids program too, and lots of teachers use it in their classrooms. I will provide the links below, but first, feel free to check out the NaNoWriMo Song. Not kidding. They have a SONG.  They also have a how-to book called 'No Plot? No Problem!', but it is not necessary to read it before writing--I didn't.

So, why does a therapist have a post in his blog about this? Simple: NaNoWriMo is an excellent creative exercise that helps adults and kids learn to harness their inner resources to complete a fun, worthwhile task: actually writing a novel of your very own. Yes, you can. Even if you don't finish it all in November, it is a fantastic exercise that will challenge you and push you in new ways (and there is always next year too). You will definitely be richer for the experience, and if you do finish, you "win" and you get to print out a cool certificate for framing (I really did frame mine--it's on the wall at home!). If you don't finish, no big deal--try again next year! (I have tried three times, and only finished once.) It will always be challenging and fun. One of the best parts are the NaNoWriMo writing parties that happen in Starbucks (etc.) in 44 countries around the world throughout the Month of November. Yep--it is just what it sounds like: a crowd of people with laptops and caffeine and the same mission: to reach their daily word goal. Sound like fun? Youbetcha!

Adults do 50,000 words, and kids set their own word-length goals. Believe me--this is an AWESOME growth experience. Do you have a book in you? I did. What are you waiting for? It doesn't cost a dime, but it will cost you one fun-filled, wild roller-coaster-ride of a November.

Go for it!

Making it work: The Brilliant Work of John & Julie Gottman

Someone recently shared this link in a group I belong to, and I am sharing the love (well, hopefully, anyway--pun intended!). Although this article is from 2014, it is very good, and provides a glimpse into the brilliant work of the Gottmans, who can predict with amazing accuracy which couples will stay together and which one's won't--using science.

Via Business Insider:

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

A Storm Is Coming. Be Ready.

Hi everyone. this is not a directly psychology-related post, but it is very important for those of us in the path of El Nino (meaning, anyone here in California). With El Nino apparently coming at us hard this winter, being prepared can help alleviate anxiety (not to mention save lives, prevent damage to personal property, etc.).

This is a link to the Southern California El Nino Preparedness Guide from Golden State Lifeguards. It is very well-thought out and reads quickly in only a few minutes. Please give it a look and share this broadly.

Southern California El NIno Preparedness Guide

Be well,

Use This Brilliant Animation to Calm Yourself Down

Research has shown that slowing down your breathing and actually paying attention to it can dramatically affect feelings of anxiety. Breathing purposefully and mindfully is essential in managing a panic attack. Pranayama, a foundational component of yoga, is all about breathing.

This simple animation is designed to help you slow and pay attention to your breathing. Bookmark it in your browser or pin it to the desktop on your phone and open it whenever you need to calm yourself down. It is not the answer to everything, but it may help you calm down.


For a great 4-minute NPR radio story on how breathing in different ways affects you, click here.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with anyone you think may benefit from it.