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Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ category


As a Positive Psychologist and Coach I am very interested to see how this special will unfold. Tony Robbins is one of those guys for whom the answer, “Fine.” To the question “How are you?” is not good enough. He helps people achieve massive amounts of success. He is not interested in people getting better, but in having them thrive! This is what I addressed in my last post Is Getting Rid of Depression or Anxiety Enough? Positive Psychology helps people move beyond feeling “not so good” or even “good,” to experiencing what it is like to feel “great!”

Check out the Tony Robbins Breakthrough special and let me know what you think.

If you want to move from feeling “Not So Good” to “Great” I can give you some techniques to help.

With practice you can become more flexible in your thinking

In their book The Resilience Factor, Karen Reivich, Ph.D. and Andrew Shatte, Ph.D. have a wonderful metaphor for examining the beliefs that go through your mind moment to moment. It is called the Ticker-Tape. Imagine the signs that display the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the current news ticker at the bottom of your television screen. Ticker-Tape beliefs are those that run through our mind on our internal “ticker-tape.” Often these beliefs are unconscious. They are very important, however, because they determine how you will likely respond emotionally, and what action you are likely to take, in reaction to an event that happens to you.

It is important, therefore, to be aware of the beliefs that go across your ticker-tape. If you are not, Reivich and Shatte suggest setting an alarm at intervals throughout the day, and then noticing what your thoughts and emotions are when the alarm goes off.

There two primary types of beliefs of which to be aware. These are beliefs asking “why” something happened, and “what-next” beliefs, which lead to concerns and assumptions about what is going to happen next.

Why Beliefs
If you find that you are asking “why” beliefs, you might notice, as Martin Seligman discovered, that “why” or causal beliefs fall into one of three categories:
Personal (me versus not me) in which we attribute an event as being our fault, versus possibly due to the influence of others. For example: “This always happens to me!” versus, “Maybe my team is having a bad day?”
Permanent (always versus not always) in which we explain that something always happens versus recognizing that it does not always happen. For example: “Every time I go on vacation it rains.” virus “There are times I have traveled and experienced good weather.”
Pervasive (everything versus not everything) For example: “This bad news that I have to work this Saturday. Is going to ruin my entire week.” versus “Working on Saturday will give me extra money so that I can take my family out to dinner.”

“What’s Next?”
If when examining your beliefs, if you find yourself worrying about the future and what happens next, this can lead to anxiety if you feel unprepared. If you are having huge negative “what’s next” beliefs, this can make your anxiety so strong that you have difficulty effectively solving problems.

The key to effective, healthy thinking and problem solving is to be flexible and have a balance of “why” and “what’s next” beliefs.

In my next post I will offer suggestions on how to be more flexible in your thinking by challenging your beliefs.

If you are interested in support on becoming more flexible in your thinking and skillful in your decision making, I would be happy to support you along the way! Contact me for an individual consultation.
Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.

I love this video that I have provided the link to, below. In many ways it is Positive Psychology applied to life! Positive Psychology is, on the personal level, about nurturing and building character strengths. When these strengths are well utilized, the ripple effect on the world around us is profound. There is one quote at the beginning by Ralph Marston, Jr. that applies to this concept: “What will you do today, that will matter tomorrow?” This reminds me of the Native American principle of thinking about what impact our actions will have on the next seven generations?
There is a wonderful quote about forgiveness, another concept that is well researched in Positive Psychology. “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway!” The video also points out that it is not often easy to be kind and happy, but encourages us to do so anyway!
I hope that you enjoy it.
If you are interested in learning more about Positive Psychology and utilizing its well-researched principles to improve your life and the lives of others, I would be happy to support you along the way!
Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.

A Beautiful Day Visualization Helps with Decision Making

A Beautiful Day Visualization Helps with Decision Making

The other day I offered the “Beautiful Day” exercise. One purpose of this positive psychology technique was, after writing out what a beautiful 24-hour period of time would look like, to see what aspects of your beautiful day you could implement into your life now. Another purpose was to feel the enjoyment of imagining your Beautiful Day

Here is another way to use the Beautiful Day exercise when deciding between several activities or situations you might choose.

1. Clarify what the different options are that you are choosing between. For example, if you are choosing between several career paths, clarify the different career choices are that you are deciding between. For example, “Do I become a physical therapist assistant, teacher, or accountant?”

2. Get all of the details and facts about what each choice would involve: If I become a physical therapist assistant I will have to go to school for two years for an associates degree; if I become a teacher or accountant I will have go to college and get a B.S. degree, etc.  Sample, as much as possible, what each choice would entail. For example, if going back to college, sit in on some of the classes you would be taking.

3. Once all of the facts are gathered, write out a Beautiful Day exercise for each option. For instance, if you become a physical therapist assistant, write out what a Beautiful Day scenario might be in this profession. If you decide to become a teacher or accountant, write out a Beautiful Day exercise for each of these professions.

By writing out your Beautiful Day scenarios for each of the options you are choosing between, it will help you to live into each. By doing so, you can potentially have a sneak peak into the future and feel what each option might hold for you.

The benefit of this exercise is that you are using you head and heart in making your choices. By first gathering the facts and details you utilize your mind to analyze the different options. By then feeling into each option by writing out what and Beautiful Day would look like for each scenario, you allow your heart and inner yearnings to give you feedback. Which felt most exciting or fulfilling when you wrote about the Beautiful Day for that option? This is valuable feedback for making your decision.

Enjoy and let me know what decisions you were able to make using the Beautiful Day exercise.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Psychotherapy and Coaching for Business Success and Personal Thriving

"A Beautiful Day" writing exercise can increase your well-being

"A Beautiful Day" writing exercise can increase your well-being

 Here is a fun, simple, positive psychology intervention to help increase your well-being. I enjoy sharing this exercise with my Asheville psychotherapy clients and individuals who do phone coaching with me.

“A Beautiful Day”*

Instructions: write out what a beautiful, fun, ideal 24-hours would look like to you. Be as detailed as possible. Describe each activity in as much depth as possible. Would you be by yourself or with others? When you describe the meals you eat, what foods are you eating? The idea is to savor and live into what ideal 24-hours would be like to you.

Benefits of “A Beautiful Day” exercise include:
Enjoyment – savoring the enjoyable details of your beautiful day will be uplifting.
Enhanced Self-Awareness – writing about your beautiful day will help you to identify what is most meaningful and enjoyable to you.
Positive Change – Once you identify what is most beautiful and enjoyable to you, you can look at what aspects of your beautiful, ideal day you can implement into your life now. For example, maybe your ideal day involves being away from a cell phone or email. If this is the case, you could schedule a “technology free” day for yourself as a mini vacation.

Enjoy writing about your beautiful day. I would love to hear about your experiences.

*Many thanks to Dr Dianne Vella-Brodrick who introduced this intervention to me at the 2009 First World Congress on Positive Psychology.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Positive Psychotherapy and Phone Coaching
for Business Success and Personal Thriving

A Blessing can be a simple as seing a Beautiful Rose

A Blessing can be a simple as seeing a Beautiful Rose

The “3 Good Things” exercise, also known as the “3 Blessings” exercise,  is a great Positive Psychology technique that has been well tested. It has been shown to increase well-being and decrease depression and anxiety. Martin Seligman, Ph.D., conducted a study  with 411 people using this exercise. The results were that 94% of very depressed people became less depressed and 92% became happier in 15 days. Furthermore, the results lasted for at least 6 months.

3 Good Things in Life Exercise

Each night before you go to bed, pick out 3 things that went well that day. Write down each of these events or experiences that went well and write about why they went well or what felt good about the experiences. Remember, the events you chose do not have to be spectacular or dramatic.
Here is an example:

Event:This morning on my way into work, I stopped and allowed an elderly lady enter the elevator before me.
Why: I took the time to slow down, notice what was going on around me, and by being kind and helpful, I felt good.

You can try this exercise for yourself and let me know what your experience is. I have used this exercise with my phone coaching clients and they have reported that it works very well.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Phone coaching and counseling in Asheville, NC for Business Success and Personal Thriving


Remember To Dream!
Remember To Dream!

So many people have lost hope and have forgotten how to dream. Two of the questions I ask my clients when I counsel them is, “If you could wave a magic wand right now, what would you want your life to be like?” and the question, “What is working in your life right now and how could you have more of this?” These are startling questions for people. Most people have the expectation that because I am a psychologist I am going to ask them to tell me about what is wrong in their lives. However, because I practice Positive Psychology, I focus on helping people to focus on what works in their lives, what their strengths are, and how they can utilize resources to empower themselves.

After people think about my questions they often say, “I don’t know how I want my life to be.” Other times people tell me a very little wish, such as, “I would like to sleep more.” I like to help people not just improve their lives so that they feel “okay” or “better.” Instead, I am passionate about helping people to thrive.

One technique I suggest to rekindle one’s dream or vision is to create a Vision Board. A Vision Board is a large bulletin board or piece of paperboard on which you paste cut out pictures or images of your life vision and dreams. The purpose of a Vision Board is to help your subconscious mind start focusing on how you would like your life to be. For example, if you want to improve your relationship or be in relationship you could cut out images of yourself with your spouse, smiling, and put this on your Vision Board. Or, you could cut out and use a picture from a magazine of a happy couple. If you want to go to Europe, find some pictures of Europe and place them on your Vision Board. If you want to own a new car, find a picture of that car and place on your vision board. If you have a picture of your face, you could even paste that in the window of the car! Your vision board is not just about getting more “stuff.” If you want to experience more calmness and serenity, you could find a picture that represents this emotional state, and put that on your Vision Board. 

There are multiple benefits to creating a Vision Board, focusing on it each day, and feeling what it would be like to experience all that your Vision Board represents to you. These benefits include:

1. Lifting your mood.

2. Orienting your subconscious mind toward what you want to achieve. When athletes mentally visualize themselves performing their sport successfully, over and over, it increases their performance next time they physically engage in their sport.

3. Giving you direction, purpose, and focus for your life. Consider what small step you can do each day to move toward your dreams. Taking this small step will empower you to make your dreams a reality.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D. offers phone coaching, and counseling at her office in Asheville, NC.

Core Values DeborahBarnett.comCore values may seem like an abstract or lofty concept to some. Generally they are the chosen values of how one conducts oneself in life. Core values may include values such as health, love, service, loyalty, honesty, spirituality, and integrity, to name a few.  To choose your core values you might ask yourself, “What values do I want to represent?” or “If I choose to be a positive role model for others, what values to I want to exemplify?”  The value of choosing your core values is that your core values then provide a foundation from which to live your life. If for example, you are choosing whether or not to do a certain activity, or make a comment, you may ask yourself, “If I do or say this am I acting in harmony with my core values?”

I recently worked with a young man who was applying for jobs and also having challenges at home with his parents. We identified his core values and then thought about how he wanted to be regarded by his future employer. Using these same core values we then identified ways he could begin to cultivate a more harmonious environment at home.

Core values can be helpful because they can make our decision to “do the right thing,” easier.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology in Asheville, NC
Phone Coaching for Personal Growth and Relationship Success

Increase your well-being with Dr. Deb

Increase your well-being with Dr. Deb

Hello Welcome to my Blog!

In this blog I will share tips you can utilize to enhance your life and experience more joy and success.  Topics will include ways to increase happiness, ease stress and anxiety, decrease depression,  improve your relationship with your spouse or partner,  and interact more effectively with family, friends and coworkers.

I offer phone consulting and coaching to individuals and groups. For those who live in, or are visiting Western North Carolina, I offer in-person psychotherapy sessions in Asheville, North Carolina. With my degree in Transpersonal psychology and positive psychology orientation, I focus on assisting individuals in identifying their strenghts, thus allowing them to experience personal empowerment, greater optimism and increased well-being.

Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments section of this blog and I will be happy to answer them or point you toward resources that may be beneficial for you.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology in Asheville, NC
Phone Coaching for Personal Growth and Relationship Success