Thursday, January 31, 2013

Romcom’s Silver Lining is its Portrayal of Mental Illness

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year...
Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Bipolar disorder by country (per 100,000 inhabitants) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Professor Nick Haslam, Professor of Social and Clinical Psychology at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

From Psycho onward, film portrayals of the mentally ill have contributed to the stigma faced by people with these conditions.

Films tend to create and reinforce stereotypes of the mentally ill as “homicidal maniacs and narcissistic parasites”. Silver Linings Playbook is a refreshing departure from this pattern.

Exaggerated cinematic portrayals of mental illness have largely bypassed bipolar disorder, whose periods of depression alternate with episodes of mania or milder hypomania.

People experiencing bipolar disorder may believe they have special powers, go without sleep, talk incessantly, act recklessly and experience racing thoughts and irritability.

Silver Linings Playbook, whose main character suffers from bipolar disorder, portrays the condition with unusual honesty.

Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, has just been released from a court-ordered stint in a Baltimore psychiatric hospital after violently attacking the man who was having an affair with his wife (the movie’s own shower scene, presented in flashback).

Having lost his wife, home and teaching job, he moves in with his parents and is soon pursued by Tiffany, a grieving widow played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is lost in her own darkness. An improbable romance develops while Pat tentatively reconnects with family and friends.

The film presents bipolar disorder deftly and accurately. Pat has periods of sleeplessness and paranoia, hatches wild plans to win back his wife in spite of her restraining order and resists taking medication.

He blurts out his uncensored thoughts, flies into hair-triggered rages and hallucinates when stressed. He lacks insight into his effect on others and uses glib therapy-speak when he talks with them.

His search for the silver linings in life seems desperate, driven by a need to deny and avoid the presence of “negativity” wherever he sees it; a novel by Hemingway, who was perhaps bipolar himself, is angrily hurled through a window for lacking a happy ending.

Pat’s confusion and fear while “white-knuckling it” through his turmoil is palpable. For all this, he’s a fully realised, rounded and sympathetic character, not a psychiatric exhibit.

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Saying No Is Empowering

Just Say No No No No No No
Just Say No No No No No No (Photo credit: Daniel Pettit)
by Vanessa McLean

One of my ongoing observations is that of the development of babies. Watching them learn from their parents, siblings and society is rather intriguing.

They are free spirited individuals, they know what they want. Try putting a feeding bottle to their mouth when they are not hungry and see where that ends up.

Try telling them not to touch something and see what they do. You've guessed it. NO ...

There is one word which in any language babies seem to master and the word is NO. They declare their intentions in no uncertain terms. They are determined to do whatever it is that pleases them most.

Challenging as it may be to oblige to their wishes, they are unflinching in their demand. They have ultimate power, they know how to get what they want. So ...

What happens to that power as the baby develops into a child, teenager and then an adult? Why is it so many people find it hard to say NO?

It becomes an act of pleasing others, forgetting that we all have a choice in life and thus said, we all have the ability to refuse something which is not consistent with our belief's likings or desires. No is a small word, it's even smaller than YES. yet people will trip over the word No in order to feel accepted or complete.

Is that you? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to say NO ... but instead of saying no you succumbed to someone's wishes, then ...

You started to feel guilty and dis-empowered because of a decision you chose to make. Feeling disgruntled by your decision, you feel and urgent need to share your predicament with the world.

Well ... instead of feeling dis-empowered, choose today to be a free expression of who you truly are. Liberate yourself from any situation which does not serve your higher good.

Now ...

Purse your lips together and say NO!

Do it again.

Experience the full feeling of freedom ... hmmm doesn't that feel good? Learning to say NO is empowering. When you do so you are in alignment with your true spirit. What comes out of your mouth is what resides in your heart.

Have a great day, feel the richness within you as you operate from your truth. Take charge of your life because if you don't somebody else certainly will. Learn how to say NO.

Vanessa McLean is a No1 best selling author of "Fight for your dreams", a Les Brown Platinum Speaker and Founder of It's In Your Story. Discover How You Can Use Your Story To Transform Lives And Create A Life Of Wealth And Abundance:

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Courage: The Act and Art of Facing What Is

Courage is the anwser
Courage is the anwser (Photo credit: SIDΔ)
by Spike Humer

"It's only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are without any self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events by which the path to success may be recognized" - I Ching.

Naked, undiluted reality can be a harsh or even bitter foe in confronting the conditions and challenges of our everyday life.

On a global level, wars, natural disasters, disease, famine, political turmoil and terrorism can "take a toll on our soul" as we search for meaning by asking "why" things have to be this way.

On a personal level, the economy, our financial circumstance, illness, moments of family trials and turmoil and even routine disappointments can cause us to seek an escape to a better "reality" through fantasy, distraction, or simple denial.

I've shucked and ducked "reality" more times than I care to share or admit, even to myself. It's a human reaction but it doesn't have to be our only mechanism for maintaining our mental sanity and emotional stability.

"Reality" can also be a joyous recognition and embodiment of the beauty that surrounds our everyday existence-love, kindness, caring, sharing, and the opportunity for growth and achievement. The chance to make the world and the reality in which we live a better place. The opportunity to pursue our passions and our personal bliss.

Both realities exists within us and within the world. Our ability to shift our attention to what we focus on is an important coping mechanism or even an element to change our perception of the reality of "what is."

But before we can find our way in the world that exists and create a true and lasting reality in our lives we want-we must first face "what is" before moving onto what could and can be.

Looking only at the "good" while ignoring the "bad" might be a formula for short-term pleasure and pacification. Lasting happiness and meaning, however, can only come through recognizing the full reality in which we are while moving toward what reality we'd rather have and accept.

Subjective reality allows us to make sense of and give meaning to what already exists or what's already happened. We can make up our mind to be happy, to be positive, and to focus only on the "good" we see in the world.

However, a made up mind is often blind-that same "positive" subjectiveness can often confine us to tolerating things only as they "are" while ignoring other possibilities as to what they could be. Ayn Rand is quoted as saying, "We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."

Objective reality is the ability to observe not only what was, what is, and what will be if we're willing to shine "our light" on the path to success as we define it. It means we have the courage not to ignore that which we don't want to see or to face. It means we're open to other possibilities and perceptions about what's going on in the world, in our lives, and within ourselves.

"Transformation begins with a willingness to let go of who and what we were" Spike Humer.

We can only change ourselves and the world through impartial and unprejudiced thinking separating what "is" from what and how we'd like things to be. Seek out dissenting opinions and differing perspectives about reality as you see it. Challenge your assumptions and beliefs by searching for contrasting conversations and counterexamples.

Let's be clear - I'm not advocating we argue for our "limitations" and liabilities. On the contrary; I am encouraging everyone to be an advocate of their own potentials and possibilities through an unbiased eye seeing what we have to do different in order to be different and have different.

It takes courage to be a "realist" but it doesn't mean we can't be visionaries and creators of our future and new realities.

It simply begins with looking into our own eyes and heart and saying, "here's where I am, here's what exists, here's what I want instead, and here's what I'm willing to do to change it"- STARTING NOW.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Think Big, Start Small: How To Micro-Cize Your Life

One small step. #portrait #thelad #steps...
One small step. #portrait #thelad #steps... (Photo credit: jfernsler)
by Renita Kalhorn

You know how to eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time.

When it comes to elephants, we get it - there's no way we can eat one all at once. When it comes to our own goals however, we tend toward an all-or-nothing approach.

(Which explains Blue Monday, a theory by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, who came up with a mathematical formula determining that the third Monday of the year is statistically the saddest day of the year. Makes sense: it's about the three-week point that the zeal for your life-changing "this year will be different" new year's resolutions starts to fade and the realization of what it's going to take sinks in).


For sure, big goals are more compelling. Like Four-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss says, "Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal."

The best way to get the big win, however, is to start small: modest, consistent progress almost always trumps all-out, dramatic efforts. Starting small sets you up for success (there's nothing that says you can't scale up as you acclimate!).

Here are three ways to start small:


Inevitably, all-or-nothing thinking - which, by definition, means going from 0 to 100 - creates inertia. Breaking a big goal up into micro-goals may mean less bragging rights (sorry, Ego!) but it busts through the wall of inertia. Once you start taking small steps, momentum kicks in and it actually becomes easier to keep moving forward than to stop.

At BUD/s training, Navy SEAL candidates are taught to "segment" - rather than thinking about how they're going to get through the next five days of Hell Week, to focus on the micro-goal of getting to the next meal, the next evolution.

Former SEAL Commander Mark Divine says: "When we set our sights on micro-goals, we achieve micro-wins, which quickly stack up and develop a sense of momentum and "can-do" instead of "can't - won't."

Micro-goals work in a crisis too. Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear, says: "If you're bogged down in a massive project at work, then, don't let yourself despair at the hugeness of the task. Break it down into pieces small enough that you can do each one in an hour or less, and focus all your attention exclusively on that."


Anyone who's intent on mastering a skill may scoff at the value of practicing only five minutes. But Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, says: "When you practice a little each day, skills don't erode. In fact, they consolidate. It's like a bank account earning compound interest: a virtuous spiral where skill accrues quickly."

This is exactly what my violinist sister found as she was counting down the months before returning to her post at the Paris Opera after several years focused on raising her children. By practicing every day - even if only for 15 or 20 minutes - she showed up at the first rehearsal feeling confident and in control.


And, finally, for everyone who says they don't have time to exercise, former Navy SEAL Phil Black and founder of FitDeck, is on a mission to change that with micro-cising.

"Basically, he says, "whenever I found myself waiting for someone or something, I started microcising. It didn't matter what I was wearing, there was no sweating involved, and no exercise took more than 10-20 seconds at a time."

As a result, he finds hidden pockets of time to exercise while the eggs are boiling, during a TV commercial, on hold with Home Depot and while his kids are putting on their soccer cleats.

How can you micro-cize your thinking?

Performance strategist Renita Kalhorn is a Juilliard-trained concert pianist with a martial arts black belt and an MBA. Claim her free five-day email course: "Top Five Mistakes High-Achievers Make Under Pressure - And How To Avoid Them" at

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How Much Are You Willing to Do to Achieve Your Desires?

Happiness (Photo credit: baejaar)
by Lizzie O'Halloran

How much time do you spend feeling frustrated, depressed and angry because other people seem to be able to achieve what you desire - so easily?

If you look closely you will find that whilst others may have acquired your goals quicker than you, there will be many things that they desire which you obtained more easily and most likely with less effort.

The privilege of success in every aspect of life is not simply given to you (some aspects of life will always be easier and harder - depending on your life circumstance). So, when you really desire something, some planning and determination goes a long way.

If something is feasible - then it is possible. It's that simple. Thus, if you're aiming to be a model and you're told you are not tall enough, you're trying to be an artist and you can't draw, or you're trying to be a professional singer and you can't hold a note, then yes it is probably time to learn more about where your best strengths really lie.

However, most of your desires are things you know in your heart you CAN achieve. It's a matter of pushing through every struggle and knowing with every fibre of your being that you are closer than you think.

One of the other issues that often stops you from achieving your desires is having the right strategy/plan and following through with it - diligently.

So, let's say you are looking for a partner. The first part of your strategy is working out what type of person you're looking for. Then, working out where this type of person would hang out. For instance:

- If you love partying - attend the same parties
- If you love exercising - join a club within your area of interest
- If you love travel - travel in a tour group with singles in your age bracket
- If you love design - attend trade shows, seminars and workshops in your chosen area of interest

Therefore, your strategy is to put yourself in an environment where you will be meeting similar minded singles that you are likely to want to date. Then follow through with your action.

The last part of the action plan is believing you are good enough to receive it when it comes. So this means when you are speaking to people who can help you achieve your goal - acting in a calm and confident manner. Further, when positive opportunities present themselves, don't be afraid to say "yes." Avoid self sabotaging your success out of a fear of not being good enough.

Finally, it's very important not to compromise on your goals to please others. In the example above, don't make excuses for negative behavior. When striving for your goals be persistent, determined and self confident. In doing do, you will not place yourself in uncompromising positions to get there and you will be focused and ready to strive for success & accept it when it comes your way.

Believe that everything is possible and you deserve it. Then don't give up!!!

Lizzie O'Halloran is the founder of Happy Life. Happy Life is dedicated to providing you with the best resources, support and products to help you achieve a healthy happy and successful life. To find out more about how Happy Life can help you change your life visit or

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Daily Inspiration: What to Do If You Lack Ambition

Go get it!!
Go get it!! (Photo credit: Aristocrats-hat)
by Ryan D Neely

Are you looking for a nudge or push to get your day started? Are you looking for some fuel to ignite your engine?

Do you wish you had a better drive to get out of bed? If so, you have come to the right place for some advice!

All of us every day wake up and hope to have a greater day than our previous day. We want something new to happen to us or for us.

We want to inspire somebody, share a laugh with somebody, or meet somebody new. However, the question is how many of us really expect those things to happen?

It is OK to want good things to take place in our lives. But, it is way better to expect special things to occur in our daily walk. People who experience spectacular things on a daily basis believe they are supposed to live a blessed life.

On the other hand, people who do not have the same experiences of continual prosperity are not doomed. Instead, there is hope for them too. The key is for them to imitate the habits of the people who are always getting what they want. Therefore, let us talk about what to do if you lack ambition.

People who are always happy and inspired, are motivated by something. They do not just wake up and say to themselves, "Well, let's see what happens today." Instead, they wake up looking forward to a great day. Not only do they wake up looking forward to a great day, they make ways for their day to be significant.

Happy people do happy activities to start their day. Whether it is writing in their journal about goals they want to accomplish, exercising, praying, or breakfast, they start their day off right. With that, the first tip in improving your ambition drive is to have something to look forward to when you wake up.

Next, lively people do things to keep themselves consistent with being cheerful and in a place where they can be blessed. They do this by setting long term goals that keep them active and focus. On that note, the second tip to help you increase your motivation is to set long term goals.

When you set long term goals, you have things to look forward to way down the road. In turn, you will find a greater length of happiness as goals keep us focused and driven to work and prosper.

Last, but not the least, excited people surround themselves with other excited people. They want to be around people who are like them in order to be accountable to someone who will keep them enthused. Therefore, the third tip in looking to boost your drive is to surround yourself with other motivated people. Be around people who are going somewhere in life. Be around people with a winning attitude as much as possible.

As you can see, your ambition is driven by your goals. Therefore, stay goal minded, make them long term, and surround yourself with other ambitious people. May today be the day that you find the daily inspiration you have been looking for.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Best 5 Ways To Deal With Loneliness

Ellen Burstyn at the 2007 Toronto Internationa...
Ellen Burstyn in 2007 (Photo: Wikipedia)
by Susan Russo

"What a lovely surprise to finally discover how un-lonely being alone can be" - Ellen Burstyn.

I specialize in helping people live Happily-Ever-After their divorce or breakup. The question I am asked most often is, "How do I deal with the loneliness?"

The reality is there isn't anything quite like the gnawing empty feeling you experience after losing someone you love.

It's almost as if you've landed on another planet and you are looking for some signs of life and nourishment. And, unfortunately the life you're looking for is your own.

So how do you find your life when the only life you've known was with someone else and now that someone else is gone?

You might find yourself looking in the mirror asking, "Who am I? Where am I? And, how did I get here?" First things first. You have to go through the process of grieving. It's a normal, natural process that will help you heal and help you get to the other side of loss.

Next you will have to pick up the pieces of your life and move on from this very point in which you find yourself standing. And, you do this by making choices that will help you move on sooner rather than later.

As you can imagine, being lonely seems to be intensified when you're alone, especially when you aren't used to it. But the truth is there are many people that are in relationships that are the loneliest people on earth.

When you find yourself alone after years of being with someone it's a difficult and scary time because you may have forgotten who you are and you don't know what to do with yourself.

But, the good news is you are about to embark on a journey into getting to know the best friend you will ever have, YOU! And once you discover yourself again you will actually begin to enjoy your alone time.

The truth is there are 100 ways to leave your loneliness behind, and here are five of the easiest things you can do to bring a little love, happiness and joy into your life.

1. Spend more time with the people who love you

Your family and friends are there to comfort you and they're probably more fun than you remember them being since your life was so tied up with someone else. Go out, hang out, cook out, stay in, play cards, watch a movie, or whatever! Now, for those of you who are going to say, "But I don't have any family or friends ... it brings me to #2.

2. Volunteer your time

There isn't anything that will get your mind off of your problems faster than when you "get out of yourself" and give your time to someone less fortunate than you. Number one, it makes you realize there are a lot of people who have it worse off than you. And, Number 2, there is nothing like the feeling of giving your time and love to someone who needs it. It's truly a gift you give yourself.

3. Do something physical

Join a gym, go for a walk, take up a sport or play the one you used to. Climb a mountain, ride a horse or take a swim. Go for a bike ride, take a yoga class or learn Tai Chi. It doesn't matter what it is, just do something that gets you up and out.

4. Learn something new

Education broadens your mind, makes you more interesting to talk to and there is a never ending list of new things to learn about. You can go to museums, symphonies, plays, movies, read books on any topic you choose and find out what's going on in the world; in past, present or future. Explore!

5. Know the truth of who you really are

Begin to understand that when everything leaves you what you have left is who you really are. It is what lives inside you; your soul, your spirit. When you can get in touch and tap into the power within you, you will realize that no matter what happens in your life this love, strength and inner wisdom will pull you through any adversity.

Plus, the best part is when you find your true self you can never be lonely again.

Remember, sad things happen to everyone at one time or another. People come and go in our lives. It's all a part of our journey; to learn from and grow from. Just because your relationship is over, doesn't mean your life is over. It's only the beginning of a new chapter so make it a good one.

Susan Russo is an author and coach who has helped people from around the world move beyond heartache and pain after their breakup or divorce. Would you like to heal your broken heart sooner rather than later? Find out exactly how with Susan's FREE copy of the 7 Steps to heal your broken heart.

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Who Decides What Kind of Day You Are Going To Have?

Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Susan Russo

"A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy and nothing can stop him" - Alexander Solzenitsyn.

Do you let other people decide what kind of day you're going to have? What I mean by that is do you allow other people's attitude or actions steal away your happiness?

For instance when you're in traffic and someone cuts you off does it tick you off? Does an unfair boss ruin your day? When your partner is miserable, does that mean you will be too? When someone is rude to you do you respond in kind?

The truth is that people who are mad, angry, rude or just plain miserable are really very unhappy on the inside and that's what shows on the outside. These kinds of behaviors have less to do with you and more to do with them. So don't take it personally!


But beware because they'll have a greater impact on you if YOU let them. If you choose to let it get under your skin and ruin your day, then it's them, not you that rules how you feel today. When you think about it, it's as if you're a puppet on a string. They yank your chain and you react the way they want you to.

Or, you can decide long before you encounter these people or situations that no one is going to take away your joy today. Each morning when you wake up, just make a conscious decision that today, no matter what happens you aren't going to let anyone ruin your day.

Sure you can have that instant thought of, "Why I oughta!" But decide upfront that it's not going to last more than that second. Realize that just because someone else is miserable doesn't mean you have to be right along with them.

When you take control of how you're going to feel and you don't let people and things rock your world; your world will rock!


Just try it. Make a decision right now that for the rest of the day it's going to be a great day and no one or nothing is going to change that. Period!

And, if that's too much for you to deal with just break it down into 10 minute increments!! What do you have to lose to give it a try?

You know how they say that life is too short to be miserable. I say life is too long to be miserable. The bottom line is you can decide. You can choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood no matter what comes your way.

Don't get bogged down by the little things, they zap you with negative energy when instead you could zap them with a positive outlook. And, when you consciously plan to not sweat the small stuff life just flows a little bit smoother.

Susan Russo is fast becoming known as a miracle worker in transforming people's lives. She has the ability to turn negative circumstances into life changing opportunities. No matter where you are in life, if you want to change your life, she is the go to coach. To learn more about Susan's products and services go to: Susan's site. And, pick up a copy of her FREE ecourse too!

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Listen Up

Human ear icon
by Nancy Travers

Ever heard the expression "Listen up?" Sometimes coaches say it when their team is in a huddle.

They want everyone to pay particular attention to their message. Listen up. Lift your chin up; direct your gaze up into my eyes. Listen carefully and hear what I'm saying. Listen up.

How often do you feel like your partner is not hearing what you're saying? Or maybe your partner's voice has become all too familiar to you and it's become too easy to tune out. Maybe you do it unconsciously.

The Listening Problem

If you don't even know what you're not hearing your significant other saying, how can you know what you're missing? How can you have a clue what's on your partner's mind? How can you begin to understand that person? How can you possibly have a relationship with that person, fulfilling or otherwise?

Why It's Easy Not to Listen

Every word from your partner's mouth is not necessarily a golden nugget worth savoring, so you have to sift through the sand and grit for the meaningful stuff. And that can be a chore.

Sometimes our beloved's familiar voice becomes too familiar, and it fades from our consciousness before we notice it. Active, mindful listening takes effort. It's easier not to listen carefully. We're human.

Why It's Important to Listen

A truly intimate, fulfilling relationship comes when you fully understand the world in which your partner lives, from your partner's perspective. And vice versa. You can get a sense how your partner is feeling when you stay in emotional touch by asking pertinent questions and listening, really listening, to the answers.

When you respond with empathy, your partner can hear how much you care about him or her to take the trouble to be cognizant of their feelings. In short, couples who listen well to one another have less of a chance of growing apart, and more of a chance for an enriching relationship. 
Your First Step to Mindful Listening

Before you begin, try to void yourself of the need to be anything but a sponge, absorbing your partner's thoughts. This is not about your witty responses, not about your own agenda, not about you. Instead you are going to listen silently and try to understand how your partner feels, even if you don't agree with the premise he or she puts forth. Just be quiet and take it all in.

Many people - men especially - feel the need to make an immediate fix. That is often not required. Your partner may not need or want you to solve the problem. Your partner may not want you to cheer him or her out of feeling bad, sad, mad or however they feel.

You don't have to take responsibility for their feelings. You don't even have to agree or disagree. Sometimes it's enough for people to express themselves and know that you know how they feel. That alone is comforting, and a good way to help your partner.

Next week I'll write more about the dos and don'ts of being a great listener. It's an important skill to master, and once you do, your relationship is bound to improve.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Generosity Does Not Need an Audience

Charleston Marathon presents $40,000 to YEA
Charleston Marathon presents $40,000 to YEA (Photo credit: North Charleston)
by Ankit S

The phrase, "Do the right thing, even when no one is looking," truly means, be honest, truthful and generous, even when you are not being watched.

We are all on a higher state of alert when we are being watched. We expect rewards when we do the right thing. We brag about our charity work. It's OK to be proud when we do something nice for others.

In a way, it helps us emotionally and spiritually as much as it does the person we are helping. Remember though, generosity does not need an audience.

It is important to help others who are either less fortunate than us, have fallen on hard times or just because helping others is a nice thing to do. There are many different ways to help others, whether it is financially, emotionally, giving education, or many other things.

Each individual decides how they will be generous and also how much. Whatever the motivation, it is important to know that it must be done whether we are watched or not. Generosity is giving without expecting anything in return. If we are only generous in order to be recognized in some way, it defeats the purpose.

How many people wait until the cashier is looking at them before putting money in the tip jar? If you saw that someone needed a helping hand in the middle of nowhere, would you help them even if there is nobody around to see it? We all love recognition and praise, but if that is the only reason we are helping others, it is not generous.

Another example, If an elderly women dropped all of her groceries and needed help picking them up, it would be disgraceful if somebody just watched and didn't help her because nobody was watching them. Be generous, and don't worry about the rewards. Do it because you want to be generous.

Remember the old adage that you would be ashamed if your actions ended up in the newspaper, don't do them. This is a great saying. Basically, if you read on the front page somebody doing an act that you do, and you are disgusted by it, then you probably shouldn't be doing it.

If a man is injured and you just walk right by him, would you be ashamed if that ended up on the news? Of course, most people would want to help him and hopefully not expect anything in return, except knowing that they did the right thing.

When you help someone, it is important to know that helping someone without recognition, is what true generosity is.

Help others without expecting anything in return. Generosity comes in all forms, but one does not need to be recognized to be generous. The only motivation a person should need to be generous, is to be helpful. Generosity does not need an audience.

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The Power of Visualization: 3 Strategies to Turn What You Visualize Into Reality

Dream Board
Dream Board (Photo credit: peregrine blue)
by John F Nepper

An Ice Cream Sundae With Anchovies

As you read this vivid description of an ice cream sundae visualize, in your mind's eye, every tasty morsel, right down to the very last detail.

Start with a large scoop (or two) of the best, homemade, rich, creamy, sweet, ice cream.

Ladle on delicious hot fudge, or caramel, maybe strawberry, and then sprinkle on nuts, or candy pieces, or maybe chunks of moist brownie. You choose.

Next, add a mountain of smooth whipped cream. And now for the piece de resistance. You guessed it - Anchovies!

If you have a vivid imagination, you had no trouble visualizing this sweet, delectable treat. Even if your powers of imagination are limited or stymied, you still were able to imagine an ice cream sundae with fish on top.

If you can imagine that, see it clearly in your mind's eye, even taste this concoction of conflicting tastes, you have the power within you to visualize and imagine anything and everything you want in your life.

Tip #1 - Make it Real

When you see something clearly in your mind's eye, it has the potential to become real. It creates a belief that allows for the vision to go from abstract to concrete, from a dream to a goal, and from a goal to achievement, success and joy.

What you see or imagine must be vivid, precise, detailed and exactly what you want to achieve, receive, and believe. Add as much detail as you can, include everything from the size, the shape, the color, the location, the cost/price, everything. Make it as real as possible.

Tip #2 - Be in the Present

Whatever you are visualizing, intending to manifest in your life, must be seen in your mind in the present tense.You have to see it happening now, see yourself holding it in your hand now, see yourself getting the promotion or the pay raise now, or holding the love of your life in your arms now.

If you see things in your future, you have just visualized something beyond your reach. The only tangible thing you have in your life is the now. The future may never come. Now is the key. 

Tip #3 - Night and Day

The best way to visualize something into manifestation is to see it constantly, in the morning when you wake, at points throughout your day, and at night before you go to sleep. The good news is that it doesn't have to take every minute of your day. You can bring about change, positive, good change by spending 15-20 seconds thinking about and seeing the change you want and desire.

That's all the time it takes but must be done often throughout your day, everyday until your desired outcome is at hand, until you have brought that outcome to fruition simply because you believed in the outcome and literally saw it through to reality.

Follow this tips and you will see your way to more joy, happiness, love, and success in your life.

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8 Easy Ways to Discover Your Strengths

“Strength does not come from physical capacity...
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” (Photo credit: katerha)
by Ashok Grover

Many people feel that do not have any strengths.

It may be because whatever you are good at, comes to you so naturally and easily that you might not think it is a strength.

It may be something very normal to you; but in comparison to others it may be a great strength.

At the same time, there may be hidden undeveloped strengths like an unpolished diamond, which does have a great value; but is not visible due to lack of opportunity.

Once you recognize this aspect, you can always create suitable opportunities to utilize your strength!

Your strengths are the foundations of your success. Doing the things you are good at, adds to your confidence and brings in extraordinary results. While it is assumed that everybody is aware of one's strengths, it is not always so. You may be having blind spots and therefore need to discover your strengths.

While there are experts to help you in this journey into unknown, there are some DIY tips that you can use to recognize your strengths. Sounds interesting? Read on:

  1. Notice where you stand out from a crowd.Do you recall taking certain initiatives whenever you are in a group? It could be taking lead in planning or just taking up the role of an informal leader. Reason is simple. It happens when one loves to do a certain thing ... or in other words using / displaying one's strengths. Look back, you will be able to recall such situations. Conclusion - whenever you acted different from the crowd, it was your strength.

  2. Look for your moments of excitement. Engaging in an activity you are really good at, shows up excitement all over. Your face becomes radiant, your body language reveals the charge, your speech exudes confidence ... and you can feel it all over. Normally, it should be quite apparent to you; but if you find it tricky, take the help of a close friend/mentor/guide to keep an eye on you and share his/her observations.

  3. Record and study your past achievements. List down your past achievements howsoever small these may be. You will be amazed to see the unexpectedly long list. Then, identify a common pattern of specific activities in those events. These particular activities are sure shot expressions of your strengths.

  4. Notice the compliments. Whenever somebody compliments you (and you know it was an honest compliment), don't bury it with just a humble acknowledgement. Make a note of it and look deeper to identify the positive side. You will find that the compliment is a real indication of your strength.

  5. Observe your cravings. Your inner yearnings act like a magnet and pull you towards your strengths. So, if you find yourself craving repeatedly to do something and you enjoy it, it is a clue that therein may lie your strength.

  6. Watch your learning speed.Certain skills you may find tough to learn and it may take quite some time in spite of your working hard on them. Similarly, some others you pick up rather quickly - a definite clue that these are your strengths.

  7. Spot the activities making you lose track of time. How many times it happened that you got engrossed so much in an activity that you were not conscious of how much time passed away. Certainly an activity which can keep you engaged to such an extent is an indication of your strength.

  8. Feedback analysis. Management guru Peter Drucker renews this technique propounded by a German theologian in the 14th century. The technique suggests that whenever you take a key decision or action, write down what results do you expect. Later (after a few days, weeks or months), compare the actual results with your own expectations. The analysis will reveal your strengths as well as weaknesses.

Armed with so many ways to unearth your strengths, it is time to move ahead and deploy them in practice so as to enjoy your work, give superior performance and climb to the ladder of success.

Why not claim your copy of the e-book "The Art of Loving Yourself." Just visit and subscribe to our free e-zine "Redefining Horizons". It brings to you quality resources in HR, Self Improvement ideas and expert inputs on Leadership Development every alternate week.

This invitation comes to you from the author Ashok Grover, Director at Skillscape - a company with a vision of Value Creation by enhancing people and organizational competencies. Visit for select HR articles, downloadable presentations and understand how Skillscape can help you and your organization in the areas of executive assessment, development and employee feedback management.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Emotional Buttons, Triggers and Controls

Emotion: Fear
Emotion: Fear (Photo credit: Cayusa)
by Violet Sky

"I had no choice!" "It's their fault I feel this way, not mine!" "It's just the way I was raised!" "Why do they always make me feel this way?" "I don't know why I said it, it just came out." Do you identify with any of these comments? If so, you may want to continue reading.

Most of us are familiar with the different sets of circumstances that we know will really upset us in one way or another.

Due to the memories left behind from other situations and circumstances we have already been through (old baggage), created when we may not have had the tools we needed at the time to handle them, this 'baggage' may have left behind trauma associated with some other similar situation in our past.

The truth is that we ALWAYS have a choice in how we feel about something. The way our brains work gives us that choice, as our own brain is what we use to control everything about our physical being.

Our brains also have control over the chemicals it releases that match what we feel and how we react to what we feel. Many of us for one reason or another are thinking that we don't have such a conscious control over these things. Well, I will try to show you how we do, and what can be done about it.

What is an emotional button?

It may start out as simple as a pet peeve, and over time develop into something that really bothers you. There are many various different degrees of irritation; but once they activate a reaction, they become "buttons" that once pushed are hard to control.

It's like an emotion that hides somewhere in the back of your mind just waiting for a reason to come out and take over. The reaction also seems to be programmed, because it almost always seems to be the same.

I hear things like, 'I have no choice but to react this way when this happens.' 'I can't change this problem I have.' 'Nothing can fix this.' These are defeatist and self-sabotaging attitudes, and this way of thinking will not help you.

What can I do about it?

Healing such damage can start by knowing the following truth: "Nothing that is done TO or BY me can affect me traumatically without my permission!"

You always have the CHOICE about how you react to your own feelings and situations when they are triggered or caused. Our feelings have always come naturally to us as children, and throughout most our lives.

Most of the time we learn these emotional reactions by watching someone else react to a similar trigger. And we learned many of these reactions while we were young. Any new trauma can also encourage us to plant one of these buttons as a form of protection against a similar occurrence in our future.

It takes better teachers than most of us have to help ourselves and others become aware of why human beings were gifted with emotions in the first place, and how to effectively control them with our choices instead of being controlled by them.

Example: If someone puts a gun to your head and demands something of you, what are your choices? Many may say there isn't one. Let me help you see them here:
(1) Do what has been demanded of you
(2) Try to find a way to not be at the end of that barrel (i.e. fight, negotiate, try to disarm them however you can, or you can choose to get shot - and even if you choose this one you may still be able to recover from it as long as you didn't loose your head, and I mean that in multiple ways)
(3) You can even choose to die if that is your wish (though I highly DON'T recommend this option)

Example 2: Say you are strapped down into a chair fully bound and your eyes pried open while something is set before you to watch. What choice do you have, right? WRONG! Our brains are still able to make the choice of whether or not we see what is right in front of us. I'm sure at this point many of you may know what I mean by some of this, as this is how we get some of our famous sayings (i.e. How did you miss that, it was right in front of your nose?).

We can create in our minds a whole other world (a fantasy) to draw ourselves into and out of at will, thereby blocking anything else around us. Another option could be to command your brain to turn off in one way or another (e.i. We can become unconscious, go to sleep, or some other extreme such as death. Once again I don't recommend that one, but it can be done by thought alone.) Hopefully, you get my point here.

You can even choose to not be afraid if you wish. Or if you are scared you can still not let that fear control you or prevent you from thinking of your options. The good news is emotions are all TOOLS so you can use your fears to release the adrenalin needed to think at super-fast subconscious speeds.

Your mind has a quite incredible talent for giving you temporarily strengthened abilities in any area you may need in order to save yourself, or to get you into a better situation.

Example: A child gets pinned under a car. The emotional reactive chemicals released in the child from this occurrence kept him from dying instantly. The emotional tools released in the mother enabled her to flip that car off of her child. How was she able to do that?

Quicker than thought as we know it consciously, her subconscious chooses the option and has her body carry out the action necessary before she really knows consciously what has happened. She didn't have the time to figure out all the reasons she couldn't do it before the reaction was already done and her child was saved. The conscious part had to catch up later. I don't doubt one bit that once caught up, her brain released a bunch of other emotions for her to deal with.

That kind of example is what I deem as a "good" button; which is not only possible, but creatable on purpose through either natural means or with training. For many many years now our military has been training people to have specifically programmed reactions in their minds and bodies. Ever hear of the popular reactions of fight, flight, or freeze?

When most of us are faced with something extremely stressful such as in life and death situations, we make this choice without much thought.

Well, these guys have taught their brains to react differently from the common ways so that they might increase their chance to succeed in what they are doing (such as survive). When such a heightened state of danger has a presence in their minds, they have learned how to behave in a predetermined manner.

Once the danger has passed, their brain's chemicals are free to return to another state, freeing the emotional tools they need for the next objective to succeed or fail, as they bear the consequences of those choices as they arise. This way their preprogrammed "buttons" can be triggered or released when they need to be in order to do what they must to succeed in what they do.

Who can fix a bad button?

Many of us, sadly, are not taught how to prevent some trauma buttons from forming from a young enough age to go unscathed in one way or another, so we are left to learn other ways of coping with certain traumas.

But think for a moment, YOU were the one who created your own buttons and triggers, so only YOU can fix them within yourself. Just the same, you can create good buttons to use at a later time. We have no idea what may come across our paths, but we do know that we have control over what we do and do not pay attention to, and how we either act or react to what we do.

Where can I learn more?

To read more ... see the second part of this article, "What can I do about my emotional triggers?" at: Violet Sky Writings

With Love, Violet Sky

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Continuous Personal Development

Personal Development Seminar (9)
Personal Development Seminar (9) (Photo credit: TijsB)
by F B Francis

A lot of people will complete a goal in their lives or they will come to a point where they believe that they are stable enough and they will do away with the personal development that they have put into their lives.

I recommend that everyone should make self improvement a daily part of their life, and make it a habit that continuously keeps on going.

By making a habit of having continuous personal development, you will definitely accomplish your goals plus do a lot more for yourself such as building self-esteem and really showing your confidence through the things that you are encountering.

A lot of people seek different ways to train their mind such as reading books or blogs, taking courses or doing different types of training-whatever it might be. It is always important to keep those things nearby for encouragement. By reading books, taking courses, or doing different types of training, this will keep you encouraged, and will also give you other ideas on the type of work you need to do.

There are many different books, trainings and courses that are constantly coming out and they are put out there for people's encouragement. Some people even find it beneficial to hire a private coach.

Another thing to having a successful outlook on, is to have a good positive attitude about it. We all let our minds drift sometimes, but if you are looking for a positive outlook, then you need to maintain a positive attitude on the situations that you are going through.

If you find yourself getting down and negative about things, seek encouragement from a personal coach, a book, or training from someone that has already been through and done a lot of studying. This will help you to stay strong through the process.

There are many benefits in using continuous personal development including whether it should be for your personal life or in an environment such as the work place. Self improvement brings clarity to things you do, and will also build your confidence and raise your self-esteem, both great things to have.

Your new way off thinking also makes you more aware of things going on in your life, leading you to be more responsible with your actions. A lot of people want to reach goals and they set plans in order to stay on track. Having a training plan for yourself can keep you on target with your progress.

I have a FREE video presentation that will be beneficial to you. Please take advantage of this offer. For more information visit: TODAY

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Why Passion Matters

Passion for Life
Passion for Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Bradford Glass

Do what you love; discover your passion; follow your heart. We hear these statements often.

Yet many people simply label them as new-age nonsense, with responses such as, "I mean, really; passion might make sense if I didn't have this thing called life in the way; so get real."

OK, I will get real. If you're not living what truly matters to you, you're being someone else.

While you may indeed allow "the stuff of life" to get in the way of your dreams, I suggest that's a choice you make - a choice based in some very bad assumptions about life - assumptions you probably don't even know you're making, assumptions which, if you did know you were making, you'd not even believe.

Yet this is precisely what steers the course of life away from dreams, away from what matters most, away from passion. And all the while, you may be wondering why you don't love your life.

The assumptions? They're all some form of a story you've heard before - if you work hard and go along with the crowd, you'll make a lot of money and be happy. I know, because for 30+ years of my adult life, I did this. I followed all the lessons, all the rules about "how life should be." My life was a perfect reflection of their teachings.

Problem was the teachings were nonsense, so my life led me down a very long dead-end street. These assumptions had blocked my ability to see my own truth and passion. When I finally came to realize this, my world changed dramatically. I'm deeply grateful for the shift in perspective.

Whatever matters most to you in the biggest picture of life (call it passion, essence, truth, soul, purpose) (1) is unique to you (so you won't find it either going along with the crowd or in a job ad in the local newspaper), and (2) has always been inside you, waiting for you to honor it.

You discover it by learning to notice its clues, which are offered to you continually, throughout the course of life. Only another of the [bad] assumptions tells you not to listen to the clues!

Here's why passion matters. If how you choose to live your life doesn't match your inner truth, you'll always feel at odds (some form of anxiety) with how your life is going. Although you may not be consciously aware of it, that anxiety stems from the mismatch between who you're being on the outside and who you truly are on the inside.

This is one of the ways passion "informs" you of its presence - asking you to listen to the anxiety. When you bring everything into alignment, however - so that who you are, how you relate to others, and what you do in your life and your work are all one - you experience peace and satisfaction more pervasive than you may ever have dreamed possible.

Life is a journey littered with obstacles - challenges, trials, risk, uncertainty, chaos. They're all part of  what makes life rich and rewarding. Trying to make them go away in order to force a result is one way to avoid the experience of living, not a way to be more alive.

Far more powerful than this futile "command & control" approach is to choose a path for which you have undeniable love. When you're doing something you love, passion carries you through life's obstacles without stress. Life simply can't feel like work if there's love driving it; it feels like love! In the words of Kahlil Gibran, "Work is love made visible."

An exercise to help tap into passion: Stop what you're doing for an hour some evening. Recall a time or times when you felt completely embraced in the flow of life, a time when life felt like pure joy, even if only fleetingly. It will likely be a time when you felt so involved in a pursuit you loved that you were unaware of the outside world.

Although life may still have had its problems, what set this time apart was that you cared more about what you put into life than what you got out of it. Replay in your imagination your thoughts, feelings, sensations. Just listen. They will tell you of your greatest dreams, your essence. Follow where they lead. Do this practice regularly as a way to discover and honor your deepest truth.

For over 30 years, Bradford Glass has inspired courageous leaders, professionals and their teams to discover and live their greatest potential. As a manager, as an educator, and as a coach, he has helped hundreds of people challenge conventional thinking and take a stand for living instead with authenticity and freedom.

If you're ready to trade "the way it is" for "the way it could be," contact me for a conversation that can shift forever your view of what's possible. Through a professional coaching partnership, I will help you reach a level of clarity and perspective - about yourself, others, life, work and the world - that will allow you to create the extraordinary, every day. For a window into the journey to your potential, please visit my website:

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Are Antidepressants Over-Prescribed in Australia?

Antidepressants (Photo credit: mr lynch)
by Professor Philip Mitchell, Scientia Professor & Head of the School of Psychiatry at University of New South Wales, The Conversation:

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has just published two opposing views on the vexed question of whether antidepressants are being over-prescribed.

The issues raised by debate are by no means unique to the United Kingdom; increasing rates of antidepressant prescribing are apparent in most developed countries, including Australia.

The BMJ discussion was precipitated by recent UK prescribing data, which reported a 9.6% increase in antidepressant prescriptions in 2011 - the largest increase in prescriptions of all medication classes for that year.

Arguing that the figures indicated over-prescribing, general practitioner Des Spence writes, “I think that we use antidepressants too easily, for too long, and that they are effective for few people (if at all)."

In the opposing camp, Professor of Psychiatry Ian Reid contends, “Given recent demonstrations that depression is still under-recognised and under-treated, the claim that antidepressants are over-prescribed needs careful consideration.”

Situation in Australia

A recent report on prescribing patterns of antidepressants and other psychotropic medications (drugs for mental illnesses) has aroused similar controversy in the local media. The study’s authors reported a 58.2% increase in the dispensing of psychotropic drugs over the period from 2000 to 2011, including a 95.3% increase in antidepressants.

Echoing the argument that antidepressants are being over-prescribed, the authors raised concern about “… the dramatic increase in antidepressant prescriptions despite questions about the efficacy of these drugs in mild to moderate depression."

These recent UK and Australian data are not surprising; they are consistent with the major increase in antidepressant prescribing that’s been occurring in most developed countries since the introduction of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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Genetic Testing for Depression Creates an Ethical Minefield

Genetic Testing
Genetic Testing (Photo credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo)
by Dr Victoria J Palmer, Postdoctoral Researcher Applied Ethics at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

A friend of mine is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment following surgery for breast cancer.

Recently, she told me that she would happily pay the AUS$4000 for a genetic test to detect whether she had cancer genes if it meant she didn’t have to complete the course of treatment.

Being her friend (and an ethicist with an interest in genetic testing), I immediately replied that genetic testing is really quite complex. Naturally, she wanted to know more.

Well, in my relatively naive understanding of this area, I promptly explained, a genetic test might not reveal the information she was looking for. It may not find a genetic risk in a person who still develops breast cancer, or it may identify a gene in a person who won’t develop breast cancer.

And I guess if you have a genetic test, you also have to be prepared to learn something other than what you were expecting so you have to consider the consequences of that. What would you do?

But what does my discussion with my friend about genetic testing for breast cancer have to do with the ethical pitfalls of “geneticising” depression? A great deal, in fact.

Since genetic developments began, genetics has been critiqued for the way it can be used to reveal and explain health and disease. As new gene associations with diseases are identified, there is a trend to explain the cause of health and illness by genes, obscuring sociopolitical, cultural and environmental factors.

Scientists are still exploring the genes associated with depression and looking into their interactions with environmental, social and psychological factors, which may increase a person’s susceptibility to developing major depression. But, we must be cautious of the possibility of geneticisation of depression.

Predictive tests for depression based on algorithms are being developed in the United Kingdom and Australian research has found that there’s public interest in undertaking predictive psychiatric testing for major depression.

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The Science of Interpreting Common Symbols in Dreams

by Dr Lance Storm, Visiting Research Fellow in Anomalistic Psychology, and Personality and Individual Differences at University of Adelaide, The Conversation:

English: Group photo in front of Clark Univers...
Front: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; Back: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi (Wikipedia)
Research shows that everyone, even those who claim they never dream, actually do. But few of us can make any sense of our dreams.

My colleagues and I have been working on a way to try to make sense of dreams so they can be used as therapy.

Why we dream is still a mystery even though cultures the world over have believed they had the answer. Many believe that dreams tell the future, and the messages in our dreams are warnings.

Depressives are known to experience prolonged periods of rapid eye movement sleep, which is directly linked with unconscious emotional processing and dreaming. So it’s possible that the symbols in dreams will give therapists an understanding and a solution to depression.

Sigmund Freud thought that dreams indicated sexual problems, but since the subconscious mind had our best interest at heart, it disguised the abruptness of the message.

Freud believed that if the analyst interpreted the dream for the neurotic patient, the patient’s psychological problem would be resolved.

Carl Jung disputed Freud’s theory and argued that dreams serve a compensatory function - if we are too one-sided in our conscious outlook, the dream warns us of the inherent danger in our thought and behaviour so we may modify them.

Perhaps these great minds were partly right in their theories, with both theorists seeing only part of the problem, so that the theories are only right in certain situations. This state of affairs can have dire consequences for a client receiving psychotherapy if it turns out that she is being misled.

Modern mental health professionals want to work with evidence-based theories. To get psychotherapy to the point where it’s efficient and reliable requires empirical work that allows researchers to accurately gauge true effects from false ones.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Predicting the Risk of Depressive Disorder: Promises and Pitfalls

365 Day 69 Genetic Testing
365 Day 69 Genetic Testing (Photo credit: lornagrl)
by Dr Alex Wilde, Research Fellow in Psychiatry at University of New South Wales, The Conversation:

The possibility of harnessing genetic science to head off major depressive disorder, the world’s leading cause of disability, is getting closer.

But molecular intervention for this common multifactorial disease is fraught with controversy while the science matures.

Promising but difficult-to-replicate results of genetic studies have triggered a proliferation of start-up private laboratories marketing genetic “susceptibility” tests on the internet, direct to consumers. Many of these products lack a robust scientific basis and the results are complex to interpret, even for experts.

The strongest evidence for a genetic association to major depressive disorder comes from genome-wide association studies and other genetic studies that have found particular DNA sequences called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (or SNPs/“snip”) associated with the disorder in a range of genes.

These studies have shown that multiple common SNPs or variants are likely to be responsible for a high proportion of the heritable risk for major depressive disorder, although the contribution of each SNP alone is said to be small.

Many of the genetic tests available online, including tests for major depressive disorder, rely on identifying variants of single genes that only contribute to a small part of the risk for diseases.

Whether such genetic tests can provide meaningful health information is questionable as many of the common disorders tested for require additional genetic and environmental factors to manifest.

Nevertheless, consumer power is seductive. And if there’s a genetic test that promises to shed light on a health risk, people want to have it. That’s certainly the view of a significant majority of Australians who answered a large national survey of more than 1000 people, conducted by our research group.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the survey participants said they were in favour of having a genetic test for depression susceptibility - if it was available from a doctor. Significantly fewer (49%) were willing to purchase such a test directly from a genetic testing company online.

The chief concerns of the respondents were worries about potential discrimination from insurers or employers and the loss of privacy for personal genetic data. Such fears are not baseless. Healthy early adopters of the currently unregulated technology with a high-risk test result could remain healthy but be denied insurance, given shorter periods of cover or even have to pay higher premiums.

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