Month: March 2019

Student Treks to Yellowstone and Finds Bacteria That Eats Pollution and ‘Breathes’ Electricity

Student Treks to Yellowstone and Finds Bacteria That Eats Pollution and ‘Breathes’ Electricity

A determined young student has made an exciting new discovery after he embarked on a strenuous 7-mile walk into the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park last August. Unlike thousands of tourists who trek to admire the park’s iconic geysers and hot springs every year, Abdelrhman […]

12-Year-Old Boy Dies After School Takes Away His Asthma Inhaler – DIY

12-Year-Old Boy Dies After School Takes Away His Asthma Inhaler – DIY

A 12-year-old boy died from an asthma attack during recess. Ryan Gibbons could have simply used his inhaler at the beginning of the episode, but the life-saving device had been taken from him and locked in the administrative office. A group of Ryan’s friends carried […]

17 Funny Facts About Schitt’s Creek | Mental Floss

17 Funny Facts About Schitt’s Creek | Mental Floss

Schitt’s Creek is a classic fish-out-of-water story: After they lose their entire video store fortune to the government because their business manager hasn’t been paying their taxes, the Rose family—parents Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Moira (Catherine O’Hara) and their adult children David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—head to the only asset the government has allowed them to keep: the town of Schitt’s Creek. The cosmopolitan Roses, who had purchased the town as a joke, move in to the local motel, where they share two adjoining rooms; they stick out like sore thumbs in their new home.

But at its heart, Schitt’s Creek is a show about family. “We’ve used a fish out of water scenario to help dramatize that story,” co-creator and star Daniel Levy told Assignment X, “forcing them into a motel room and … examining what it means to be a family and what relationships are and having the time to concentrate and focus on who they are to each other and what they mean to each other.” Here are a few things you might not have known about the series.

1. Reality TV inspired some elements of Schitt’s Creek.

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Daniel told Out in 2015 that “It really just started with me being in Los Angeles, knowing that I wanted to write. I had been watching some reality TV at the time and was concentrating on what would happen if one of these wealthy families would lose everything. Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?”

Annie Murphy recounted at 92Y Talks in 2018 that she looked to the Kardashians for inspiration for her character. “I watched a bunch of clips—YouTube clips, because I couldn’t bring myself to watch entire shows—of, you know, Kardashians and that kind of thing” for some of Alexis’s tone and mannerisms, including the particular way she holds her hands, she explained. “When they hold their handbags, they hold their purses [on their arms] with their broken wrist this way,” Murphy said, pantomiming someone holding a bag with their hand hanging limply, palm up. For Alexis, she flipped her wrist so that her hand was hanging palm down (you can see it in action here).

2. Schitt’s Creek is a family affair.

To flesh out his idea, Levy turned to his dad, frequent Christopher Guest collaborator (and American Pie star) Eugene. The two had never worked together before; in fact, pre-Schitt’s, Daniel had been adamant about doing his own thing. “People are so quick to judge children of people in entertainment,” he told Assignment X. “I just thought, if nobody knows the association and I’m able to build something for myself, then I can introduce my dad—when people actually respect me for what I’ve done, as opposed to snap-judge why I got the job or what I was doing.”

Why go to him for Schitt’s? As Daniel explained to NPR, he had seen the family-loses-it-all idea “played out on mainstream television and sitcoms, but I’d never really seen it explored through the lens of a certain style of realist comedy that my dad does so well. So I came to him and pitched the idea and asked him if he would be interested at all in just fleshing it out and seeing if there was anything there. And fortunately, there was some interest and we started talking.”

Eugene told The New York Times that he was thrilled to have the chance to collaborate with his son: “My heart was actually palpitating. You could see it over my shirt.”

(Eugene and Daniel aren’t the only Levys on the show, either: Sarah Levy, daughter of Eugene and sister of Daniel, also appears on Schitt’s Creek as Twyla Sands, the lone waitress at the town’s most happening diner, Cafe Tropical.)

3. Eugene Levy came up with the title Schitt’s Creek.

“It was actually just out of coincidence really,” Daniel told Out. “He was having a dinner conversation a few weeks prior, about this theoretical town of Schitt’s Creek: You would have Schitt Hardware and Schitt Grocers.” When they were researching ways that people had lost their fortunes, they came across stories of people who had bought towns for various reasons and later ended up bankrupt. “We thought, well, what if this family, as a joke for the son’s 16th birthday, found this town called Schitt’s Creek, bought it as a joke because of the name and then ended up having to live there?” Daniel said.

The show’s name can make promotional tours interesting: Not all TV or radio outlets can say it, for fear of being fined for using profanity. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, for example, the name of the show has to appear on screen every time it’s spoken aloud.

4. Annie Murphy also auditioned for the role of Stevie Budd.

At a 92Y Talks discussion in 2016, Murphy revealed that she auditioned for both Stevie Budd—the deadpan concierge at the Schitt’s Creek motel where the Roses make their home—and Alexis, the self-centered socialite character she would eventually play. “I’ve never worked so hard at an audition in my life,” she said. “I made my husband rehearse it with me just into the ground.”

In the presentation pilot—which is meant to secure a season order and not destined to air on TV—Alexis had been played by Abby Elliott, who couldn’t continue on the show because of another project. So auditions were held in Los Angeles, where Daniel said they saw “hundreds” of people for the role.

“There had to be some kind of intrinsic likeability to this family, otherwise there’s really no reason to watch—because on paper they’re not very likeable,” he said. “I had been sitting through two days of auditions, and you see these girls come in and they’re dressed like Paris Hilton and they’re playing that part, which was essentially the part that was written on paper. But what I was looking for was what Annie brought in, which was this wonderfully natural likeability to this girl who is so unlikeable, who is so, like, horrifyingly self-involved … It all kind of fell into place, and I called my dad and said ‘I found Alexis, thank god.’”

But Eugene’s immediate response, according to Daniel, was that Murphy had brown hair, unlike the blonde vision of Alexis he had in his head from the pilot. So they had Murphy read for Stevie, because, Daniel said, “I’m not not having her on the show.” When Murphy landed the role of Alexis, she dyed her hair blonde, and Emily Hampshire was cast as Stevie (who had been played by Lindsay Sloane in the pilot).

5. Emily Hampshire doesn’t remember anything about her audition.

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When she got the audition for Schitt’s Creek, Hampshire was living in L.A. and going through a rough time. “I literally had $800 in my bank account, hadn’t worked in a year, was getting a divorce,” she tells Mental Floss.

To make matters worse, she was also breaking out into hives when she went out on auditions. So when her agent called about Schitt’s, Hampshire said she absolutely couldn’t go read in person; what she could do instead was put herself on tape. But at her agent’s insistence, Hampshire went in to audition in front of Daniel and a casting director—and it was a memorable experience for everyone involved but her: Hampshire says she doesn’t remember any of it.

Thankfully, Levy does. “Emily came in and immediately said, ‘I’m sorry, this is going to be terrible,’” he recalled at 92Y Talks in 2018. “She did it, and it was great, and I remember saying … ‘Why don’t we just try it where she gets a little more kick out of these people. She’s not just judging them, she’s like, enjoying them, too.’ So she did it again, and you can tell when it clicks … and I remember saying, ‘Great, we’re good,’ and she was like, ‘no, it was—oh god, it was terrible, it was so bad.’” Then, she covered her head with her shirt to hide. Hampshire doesn’t remember that part, either, but, said Levy, “I remember it fondly.”

6. Stevie is the audience’s stand-in.

“The character of Stevie has always acted as the eyes of the audience,” Daniel said during a 92Y Talks in 2018. “She is the person who is going to say the things that the audience is probably saying to each other while watching it. And I think it’s always important to have that one character on the show that you can trust.”

That was something that resonated with Hampshire. “I think what I connected to in Stevie is that she really stands in for the audience in a way,” Hampshire says, “and I felt like I just had to watch these people around me and take them in in an honest way and it would be funny.”

In the character breakdown she received when she auditioned, Hampshire says that Stevie was described as “being from a small town, and she’s very deadpan.” But over the course of four seasons, Stevie has evolved. In season one, Hampshire says, “I don’t think she had any attachment to the motel or to anyone—on purpose. To not be attached or kind of be emotionally invested in anything is a much safer place to be. Over four seasons, she has opened up. I think Stevie grows up a lot this season and really learns to take responsibility for things that I don’t think she ever wanted to take responsibility for.”

In the fourth season, viewers will see how deep Stevie and David’s friendship is, and her partnership with Johnny in running the motel gives her “a new support system that allows her to bloom into whatever kind of special thing she’s going to become,” Hampshire says.

7. Catherine O’Hara brought something special to the character of Moira Rose.

It was Eugene who suggested O’Hara—his frequent collaborator in Guest’s mockumentaries—for the part of Moira Rose. “I was not going to say, ‘No, that’s not a good idea,’” Daniel told The New York Times. “When he offers up Catherine O’Hara, you take it and run with it.”

And Moira’s eccentricities are all O’Hara’s doing. “We always knew Moira was an actress, an ex-soap star, who became a socialite, chairing major charity events around the world,” Eugene told The Hollywood Reporter. “But Catherine, who always brings something so creative to the table, added a very extreme affectation to her actress character that made Moira so much funnier than we had imagined her.”

O’Hara told Awards Daily that her character’s voice is “kind of a mix of people I’ve met. There’s one woman who’s very feminine and lovely. She just has a unique way of putting sentences together.” Inspiration can come from other sources, too: In the Season 3 episode “New Car,” O’Hara at one point had to use a British accent. “There’s a woman on Sirius radio who claims to be a dog whisperer or pet psychic. Have you heard this woman?” she asked Awards Daily. “That’s basically the accent I’m doing.”

8. Moira’s aesthetic is based on Daphne Guinness.

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“Catherine came in with a reference, when we first started exploring what the aesthetic of this strange woman would be, and she brought in a picture of Daphne Guinness, who is the heir to the Guinness fortune,” Daniel said at 92Y Talks in 2018. “And she was a McQueen muse, and I looked at it, and I said ‘How do we translate this to television?’ And we thought if we kept it in black and whites and went just far enough, I think we can sort of rein it in.”

Moira’s over-the-top looks (which include a number of wigs that, according to Hampshire, have names) are created by Dan and Debra Hanson. “They shop all year because these characters have to have extremely high-end, designer wardrobes, but [the Roses] don’t have that money anymore,” O’Hara told Awards Daily. “I’ve never enjoyed wardrobe fittings in my life until now!”

9. The wardrobe on Schitt’s Creek tells a story.

“Dan plays a big hand in the costuming, along with the costume designer Debra Hanson, who is amazing,” Murphy told Build. “Catherine and I do hours and hours of fittings before we start shooting. And I’ll come out of the room and Dan will be like, ‘Mm mm,’ and send me back in.”

After joking that that “makes me sound crazy,” Daniel said that “the mandate, from a creative standpoint … was that the wardrobe on this show is able to tell a story that we don’t have to write … we’re constantly reminded of who these people are and where they came from.”

Because the show is on a tight budget, lots of the wardrobe, he said, comes from eBay and thrift stores. Levy told Vulture in 2019 that all the clothes have to come from around the time when the Roses lost their money—and that the most he’ll pay for any item is $200.

10. The location of Schitt’s Creek is purposefully ambiguous.

Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian production, and the Rose family had a place in New York, but when people ask him where the town of Schitt’s Creek is located, Eugene says that he tells them it’s wherever they think it should be. “We didn’t set Schitt’s Creek in any location or any country, it’s just Schitt’s Creek,” he said at 92Y Talks in 2016. “We honestly wanted the focus of the show to be on this town, and if you put it in a country with real states or put it in a country with real provinces, then things become tangible … it kind of diffuses the focus to me.”

11. There’s not a lot of improv on the Schitt’s Creek set.

That fact might surprise fans of Eugene and O’Hara’s work on Guest films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, where the cast works from an outline of the action with no dialogue rather than a traditional script. “[Schitt’s] is completely a scripted show, but we do an awful lot of playing around with the lines when we get to the set,” Eugene told The Hollywood Reporter. “What looked good on paper doesn’t always play when you hear the words out loud. So, we do change things until they end up sounding right.”

“When we get the script, I kind of work on it on my own and play with it then,” O’Hara told Awards Daily. “The Levy gentlemen give me respect, and I respect them and email them with possibilities. I don’t feel the need to improvise because our scripts are great.”

Which is not to say that everything is shot as written: Levy said at 92Y Talks in 2018 that Murphy’s “you get murdered first!” from the pilot episode was improvised.

12. The baseball team in the town where Schitt’s Creek films changed its name to honor the show.

Schitt’s Creek films in Canada, in Goodwood, Ontario. “We did dingy up the town tremendously,” Daniel told NPR. “It is a lovely town that we had turned into the town of ‘Schitt’s Creek.’”

All of the show’s interiors are shot at a studio, but the buildings are actual structures in Goodwood, dressed to look like Schitt’s Creek. According to Hampshire, many of the buildings are on a single intersection. “There’s Bob’s Garage, which is a garage, but we put a sign up, and then the café and the apothecary are stores,” Hampshire says. “When we shoot there, we make them into our stores.” The motel was, at one point, actually a motel. “It’s been since turned into this basketball boys club sleeping quarters camp thing,” she says. “When we go in, it really smells like a locker room.”

In the first season, locals set up lawn chairs to watch filming and wandered through shots; by the second season, Eugene told 92Y Talks in 2016, they were “proud citizens of Schitt’s Creek.” The town seems to have embraced its alter ego, as evidenced by the actions of its minor league baseball team. “They had a minor league kind of baseball team there that actually changed their name from the Goodwood Bears to the Schitt’s Creek Bears for an entire month,” Eugene told NPR.

13. When it comes to Schitt’s Creek, Daniel Levy leaves no detail unconsidered.

And that includes the wear and tear on the carpets in the mote. “In my head it’s like, ‘We should all know that they don’t vacuum their carpets all the time,’” Levy told GQ in 2019. “These are lived-in carpets. We’re in a motel. If we’re going to vacuum the carpets, which I know has to be done, we also need to scuff them up a bit after.” He does all the scuffing himself: “It’s in the details for me, and when the details aren’t executed perfectly, I get a bit … ornery,” he said. (But Daniel doesn’t bring that energy to set: “It’s crazy how comfortable he is doing this, how calm and confident he is running the show,” O’Hara told GQ.)

14. Chris Elliot makes Eugene break constantly.

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According to Murphy, Eugene “giggles like a schoolboy” in scenes with Chris Elliot, who plays Schitt’s Creek Mayor Roland Schitt. “He’s got my number,” Levy said in an interview with Build. “He’s constantly making me laugh on set … He does it intentionally, of course, and he actually succeeds.”

One scene in the show’s third season was particularly tough to get through and resulted in hours of outtakes: “[Chris] gets in kind of behind me, trying to show me how to hold a [golf] club properly,” Levy recalled. “That’s one of the times I think I laughed the hardest in the three seasons, was trying to get through that scene.” He couldn’t stop laughing and was eventually admonished by the director. (They did eventually get the shot.)

15. Cafe Tropical’s menu is Murphy’s favorite prop.

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Cafe Tropical’s huge menu is often played for laughs on Schitt’s Creek, and it’s Murphy’s favorite prop on the show. “I wish everyone could see the inside of the menu because it’s very detailed and there’s literally every dish you could possibly imagine,” Murphy said at 92Y Talks in 2018. “There are literally 150 things you could order on this menu, and they’re all described.” The props department couldn’t find a big enough real-life menu, so they ended up creating massive ones in a custom size.

16. Hampshire regularly borrows Stevie’s clothes.

With her Chucks, flannels, and overalls, Stevie easily has the most comfortable wardrobe on Schitt’s Creek. It’s so comfortable, in fact, that Hampshire often borrows items to wear on her time off. “I always take this one pair of Stevie’s jeans that I love—they’re like the perfect baggy boyfriend roll-up jeans,” Hampshire says. “I take hoodies. I actually take Stevie’s Converse because they’re better than my exact Converse for some reason. I always take her stuff, which Dan doesn’t understand at all. He’s like, ‘What is there to take? Like, why would you ever borrow this stuff?’ But for some reason, the wardrobe women, they just find the perfect hoodie or the perfect jean—so I take those.”

17. Season 6 of Schitt’s Creek will be its last.

Daniel announced the news on Twitter in a letter written by himself and Eugene. “We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” they wrote. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow. We could never have dreamed that our fans would grow to love and care about these characters in the ways that you have.” The final season, which will consist of 14 episodes, will air on the CBC and Pop in 2020.

This piece was updated in 2019.

Brazilian Peppertree found to disarm deadly MRSA bacteria –

Brazilian Peppertree found to disarm deadly MRSA bacteria –

(Natural News) Tropical rainforests such as the South-American Amazon are the world’s most precious medicine cabinets. Today, more than 120 commonly used prescription drugs are derived directly from rainforest plants. As antibiotics start to fail, widespread antibiotic resistance is becoming a real thing. Now more […]

Whooping cough vaccine less effective because bacteria is mutating, study suggests

Whooping cough vaccine less effective because bacteria is mutating, study suggests

Breaking News Emails Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings. March 13, 2019, 4:41 PM GMT By Erika Edwards The vaccine for whooping cough doesn’t work as well as it used to, and new research suggests […]

The Connections Between Positive Psychology And Mental Health

The Connections Between Positive Psychology And Mental Health

Mental health therapists in the past dealt mostly with psychological diseases and the health issues that came from it. Their focus was less on individual factors like motivation, positive thinking, happiness, and emotional resilience, and more on the manifested symptoms of mental illness.

George Vaillant, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, said that old literary works on psychiatry and mental health have a myriad of discussions on anxiety, depression, stress, anger, and fear, and almost nothing about affection, compassion, and forgiveness (Vaillant, 2009). But this is all a matter of the past now.

With the advent of the science of happiness, or positive psychology, a significant shift in the focus of mental health research and practice has been noticed. Positive psychology has opened a new way of looking into problems. It recognizes happiness and well-being as an ‘essential human skill’ (Davidson).

As a composite of clinical psychology, positive science helps in understanding how we can work on enhancing our internal capabilities and make the best of our present. Rather than focusing on symptomatic therapy and treatment, positive psychology centers around emotional stability, expectation management, and fruitful thinking, which is why it is referred to as the ‘study of ordinary strengths and virtues’ (APA, 2001).

Positive psychology goes hand in hand with traditional mental health interventions. In this article, we will explore the semblance and the association between positive psychology and mental health and discuss how the combination of both is essential for the successful outcome of any psychiatric disorder.

A Look at the Neuroscience of Mental Health

Studies indicate that mental health disorders affect the vast majority of the world population today. And the root of all these troubles lies in our brain – the key to understanding which lies in the study of neuroscience. When entwined with mental health, neuroscientific explorations suggest which part of the brain is responsible for causing what trouble, and how we can address to solve that. It helps us understand the molecular changes that the brain undergoes in different psychotic and neurotic conditions.

A research paper on Global Mental Health and Neuroscience published by Professor Dan J Stein spoke on how neuroscience was effectively incorporated in treating mental health issues across all ages and cultural backgrounds.

Mental disturbances activate neural connections that provoke negative thoughts, actions, and emotions. By understanding the neuroscience behind these psychological problems – for example, what happens in the brain when we are in trauma, or which parts of the cortex gets activated due to mood disorders, psychologists can better manage the issues and delve into a deeper level of treatment.

Neuroscience makes mental health interventions more focused and evidence-based. For example, schizophrenic patients suffer a lot in terms of their cognitive functioning. Their dysfunctional thoughts prevent them from getting back to their usual lives or perform daily life activities.

The neuroscientific approach helped professionals in realizing this and therefore, targeting cognitive repair as an essential part of treating people with schizophrenia. As a result, the prognosis was much better than it was before (Casey, 2014).

Incorporating neuroscience in mental health had numerous benefits.

A study on the neuroscience of exercise and its impact on mental health suggested that an active lifestyle has dominant effects on our mental faculties. The researchers focused on the relationship between physical activity, mental disorders like major depression and dementia, and mood changes.

The target population for this study was mainly athletes; however, the results extended to support the facts for others as well. The research brought light to the fact that regular exercise increases physical and mental strength. It enhances mood, regulates emotions, and maintains optimum bodily functions.

Authors of this study argued that perhaps physical exercise is one of the reasons athletes are more resilient in their personal lives – both emotionally and physically.

Why Neuroscience Is Imperative For Mental Health

Steven R. Pliszka’s bookNeuroscience for the Mental Health Clinician’ lucidly explained why knowing the neurological basis of psychological disorders is a must for psychologists.

Just like understanding how the heart works are essential for treating cardiac illnesses, identifying brain dysfunctions aids in deciphering the physiology of mental disorders and guide the treatment procedure likewise.

While the author acknowledges that psychotherapy is possible without digging into the biological causes, he also reasons why it is crucial for therapists to use a neuroscientific adjunct.

Using Positive Psychology in Mental Health Counseling

Almost 20% of the American population today is trapped in substance abuse, anxiety, and depression (Wang, 2011). And among those who seek professional assistance for recuperating, the ones who choose a combined treatment plan with medication and therapy, recover sooner (Seligman, 2006).

The reason why this combined approach works for many is that it encompasses all the areas the ailment impacts, and as such it helps in real recovery, rather than ‘medical masking.’

The most significant contribution of positive psychology in mental health counseling and therapy is the introduction of happiness as a treatment goal (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012).

Positive psychology devised measures such as the Psychological Wellbeing Scale or the Happiness Scale that could objectively measure how satisfied a person is from the inside. With the advent of these psychological wellbeing measures, mental health professionals found a solid reason to shift their focus from the problems to the solutions.

They now paid more attention to building what is already there rather than just filling the void that the mental condition created. The contradistinction between positive psychology interventions and standard mental health therapy is that PPIs, rather than directly targeting at the symptom reduction, engage in boosting positive emotions and bring back the lost meaning in life.

Studies have shown that the effect of positive psychology interventions last longer and produce more happiness than traditional psychotherapies. A web-based survey on positive psychotherapy in treating major depression revealed that individuals responded sooner and showed signs of recovery with positive interventions.

Besides, the investigators agreed that using techniques that enhance positive emotions and build fundamental motivation guarantees a better prognosis than flat medication or traditional psychotherapy. The goal of incorporating any intervention in mental health counseling should be to shift the individual’s focus from the negative symptoms to the brighter aspects of his life, and positive psychology provides the impetus to bring this change.

4 Positive Psychology Interventions That Are Used In Mental Health Counseling

There is substantial evidence proving the relevance of positive psychology interventions in psychotherapy and counseling. Besides boosting happiness and confidence, it restores the mental balance that we need to sustain a healthy life (Hefferon, Boniwell, 2011).

The advent and awareness of positive interventions in counseling has taken mental health treatment to a diverse multicultural and humanistic level (Owens, Conoley, 2015). Be that school counseling, individual therapy, or life coaching sessions, positive interventions are now an integral part of mental health treatment channels, and here are some of the popular PPIs that many psychologists use today:

1. Strength-based Therapy

Strength-based strategies combine positivity, social psychology, preventive measures, solution-focused methods, and personal development as conjectures to the counseling mechanism (Smith, 2006). Strength-based interventions focus on ‘salutogenesis,’ a term coined by Professor Aaron Antonovsky (1979), that refers to acknowledging human wellbeing and welfare to be more critical than his psychological illness.

As the name suggests, strength-based techniques help in “finding your strengths and act on them with focused attention” (Elsie Jones-Smith, 2011). An individual who seeks psychological assistance for his condition is mostly preoccupied with the things that are going wrong in his life. For instance, a study revealed that psychotic patients had a significantly low self-esteem score on a standardized scale.

Consequently, they had a poor lifestyle and unhealthy psychosocial functioning. Implementing strength-based interventions for such individuals was a great idea, as it improved their quality of life and helped them focus on their strengths (Saleebey, 2006).

Strength-oriented techniques involve:

2. Quality Of Life Therapy

The quality of life measure works on the principles of positive psychology and cognitive therapy (Frisch, 2006). It helps clients discover their goals in life, motivates them to follow their dreams and look inside for finding a deeper meaning of self-satisfaction. It uses measures like the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI) and the CASIO model of self-satisfaction and follows a step-by-step treatment process.

The QOL (Quality of Life) Therapy is evidence-based, research-oriented, and caters to the needs of today’s adult population (Ed Diene).

3. Hope Therapy

Hope helps to “dwell in possibilities” (Emily Dickinson). As a positive psychology intervention, hope therapy operates on the theory of hope that suggests that emotions can be evaluated or changed according to fruitful goal pursuits (Synder, 2002; Lopez, Floyd et al., 2000).

As the name suggests, hope therapy singularly aims to promote a hopeful attitude among the clients who are undergoing a catastrophic mental turmoil. It works exceptionally well for major depression, PTSD, and other stress disorders.

The goal of the hope therapy is to enhance insight and help to reconnect with the self. It uses a semi-structured format, blending standardized tests with subjective ones, and involves four steps:

Researchers in this field suggest that hopeful people are more realistic than optimistic. They set their goals reasonably and aim to attain each target at a time. Studies measuring the efficacy of hope therapy revealed that individuals who received an auxiliary hopeful in their therapy sessions had higher scores on self-esteem and confidence scales. They had better clarity of their goals and were more energetic to act on them.

4. Well-being Therapy

The well-being therapy model owes its roots to Carol D. Ryff’s model of psychological well-being (1998). Ryff’s model was multidimensional, including factors like environmental mastery, personal satisfaction, a more profound sense of meaning in life, acceptance, resilience, and positive social connections.

Later, Giovanni Fava, a renowned psychologist, and clinical practitioner developed well-being therapy as an effective positive psychology intervention for mental health counseling and guidance (Ruini and Fava, 2004).

Following the principles of Ryff’s model, well-being therapy promotes happiness by letting clients identify their thought blocks. Well-being therapy is useful as a relapse or prevention management intervention and uses techniques such as:

Positive Psychology vs Clinical Psychology

Positive psychology emerged after a fair share of debates and misunderstandings about how well it can co-exist with clinical or health psychology. We know that clinical psychology aims to address mental health issues and apply existing theories and evidence into practice.

Positive psychology, on the other hand, functions for promoting well-being and happiness, whether or not there is a mental health condition involved (Steffen et al., 2015). Positive psychology came into the picture when eminent psychology practitioners realized that it is time mental health gave equal importance to the positive aspects of human living (1). Eventually, positive psychology emerged as an offshoot of mainstream clinical psychology and became an important area of specialization for many social scientists.

The fathers of positive psychology, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggested that focusing on symptom reduction or restoration of normalcy is only a partial solution to a mental health problem. With positive psychology, we can fixate inner happiness and contentment into the individual – we can prevent and protect the person besides curing him.

While clinical psychology digs into the root cause of the illness to help the person recover, positive psychology delves into the root causes of happiness that can make a person immune to any adverse mental condition. Positive psychology, is, for the most part, present and future oriented. It focuses on a person’s strength, abilities, talents, relationships, positive emotions, positive experiences, and intrinsic motivation.

Despite having prominent contrasts, clinical psychology and positive psychology does not oppose each other. Both the fields target human welfare and wellbeing. Seligman (1988) suggested that positive psychology is not a contemporary addition; it has been there and was always an essential component of humanistic approaches.

What we need now is a conscious shift of focus to acknowledge its existence and preach the code of happiness through it (Waterman, 2014). Clinical psychology is one of the earliest extensions of mainstream psychology that helped humans live a better life (Mayger-Moe, Owens & Conoley, 2015; Friedman, 2008).

Before the advent of clinical psychology interventions like cognitive behavior therapy, bereavement counseling, anger management, or other psychotherapeutic practices, there was no known way to fight mental breakdowns. Positive psychology interventions were an add-on to clinical practice as they promoted happiness.

While clinical psychology practice was limited to only help-seekers and those who were already suffering from some psychopathology, positive psychology reached out to the average population as well as the clinical patients.

It benefited those who were on the verge of falling prey to mental health issues or those who were highly susceptible to the same (example – trauma victims, recently bereaved persons, etc.). So despite thinking positive psychology and clinical psychology as two opposing or contradicting branches of psychology, experts in the field consider them as two complementing components of psychological treatment and counseling.

It is not a question of clinical psychology vs. positive psychology, but rather an open mind to incorporate positive interventions in clinical therapies, and vice versa (Churchill, 2014).

Clinical Psychology and Positive Psychology – A Brief Comparative Analysis
Clinical Psychology Positive Psychology
1. Focuses on the negative aspects and problem behaviors to reach a solution. 1. Focuses on the positive thoughts, emotions, and actions to reach a solution.
2. Aims to validate theories and put pieces of evidence together to explain and treat
  a mental condition.
2. Aims to promote happiness and operates on principles that support wellbeing.
3. Digs into the past to explore the causal factors. 3. Explores the present and the future to find better ways of living.
4. Includes areas like education, learning disabilities,
depression, stress, addiction, trauma, etc.
4. Includes areas of strength, virtues, talents, abilities, and self-enhancement.
5. Operates in the presence of a problem. 5. Operates with or without psychopathology.
6. Preventive and recovery-oriented. 6. Preventive and precautionary.

Research On Positive Psychology And Well-Being

1. A Study On Mental Illness And Well-Being

Positive psychology gave mental well-being awareness a whole new direction. Mike Slade, the author of this publication, shed light on how mental health services now give more importance to individual happiness and work on ways to enhance it.

The prime focus of this research was suggesting how mental health practitioners can incorporate positive psychology interventions to shift the goal from treating illness to promoting eudaemonia (Coleman, 1999). Mental illness and mental well-being are two distinct concepts (Slade, 2009), and the focus of psychiatric or psychological interventions should be on expanding prosperity. (2)

Pointing at the research of Seligman, Slade suggested that positive psychology works at a subjective level and values individual experiences, emotions, and actions. It operates at two levels – the personal level (involving awareness of positive traits like love, empathy, forgiveness, and hope), the social level or the group level (including interventions to promote social relationships, social responsibilities, tolerance, altruism, and sense of values).

By following the positive approaches, the author steers mental health researchers and practitioners to focus more on the overall enhancement of an individual, rather than concentrating only on the problem areas.

2. The Complete State Model Of Mental Health

Slade’s model of mental health and well-being developed the complete state model of mental health from a salutogenic view-point. The CSM (Complete State Model) is also known as the dual-factor model of mental health (Suldo & Shaffer, 2008) or the two-continua model of mental health (Westerhof & Keyes, 2010).

The CSM identifies mental well-being and mental illness to be lying on a continuum or spectrum – from present to absent, and from high to low (Keyes, 2005).

The interplay of these two factors determines a person’s overall mental health. Slade argued that personal recovery is the goal of positive psychology, and asserted that it emerges from hope, happiness, and responsibility. (3)

The CSM identifies mental health as having a high level of well-being and low level of mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety, stress). The spotlight here is not on ruling out the mental illness or psychotic symptoms, but on suggesting that well-being and mental illness are separate issues that together structure our mental health.

The absence of psychopathology does not imply that sound mental health unless we have a high state of psychological well-being. The CSM explanation approved of positive psychology for being significantly relevant to personal well-being and recovery.

Positive psychology works around the concepts of happiness, hope, motivation, empathy, and self-esteem, all of which directly contributes to enhancing our well-being (Schrank, Slade, 2007).

It promotes authentic happiness and describes that a ‘good’ life can come in four forms: (4)

Slade suggested that following the tenets of positive psychology is possibly the best way to promote individual recovery and guarantee a satisfactory level of mental wellness.

Complete state model of mental health

3. Positive Psychology And Health

Health psychology gives mental well-being great importance when it comes to living a ‘disease-free’ life. WHO described health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and is not merely the absence of illness or infirmity” (WHO, 1948). Since then, researchers and health professionals all over the world have realized the importance of eudaemonia, an optimal state of functioning, and positive mental states to be essential for sound physical health (Ryff and Singer, 1998).

Health psychologists define positive health to be a combination of:

The research suggested that the favorable health condition most health psychologists aim to achieve comes from an association of positive interventions and health science methods. Positive health strategies that predict good health include – positive feelings, self-satisfaction, positive thinking, emotional management and self-regulation, self-enhancement and finding the true meaning of happiness, spirituality, empathy, and forgiveness, and building strong social relationships (Cohen, 2006).

In an experiment on studying the effect of positive emotions on catching a cold, Cohen and his colleagues found that participants who reported experiencing positive emotions like happiness, satisfaction, and enthusiasm, had lower risks of catching the virus than participants who reported feelings of depression, loneliness or anger. This study was a direct shoutout to the fact that positive emotions guarantee better health, more immunity, and stronger resilience.

Another study conducted on the adult population of the US showed that having a firm purpose in life reduced the risk of coronary diseases in patients. Patients with a history of cardiac dysfunctions showed quick recovery symptoms and lower chances of relapse when treated with positive interventions.

A study on the impact of positive psychology on stress and coping showed that working professionals who followed a positive approach in their everyday lives, or who were guided to use positive interventions, showed significantly reduced stress levels. They reported feelings of self-motivation, had better relationships with their co-workers, showed more productivity at work, and were more satisfied with themselves.

Mental Health Interventions That Promote Well-Being

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1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy is known to most people today. It is arguably the most popular psychotherapy in use today. The reason behind the wide acceptance and application of CBT is the fact that it has constituent parts aligned with personal wellness and self-recovery.

CBT is by and large a psycho-social therapy. The client is as much responsible for his recovery as the therapist is. Recent studies indicate that CBT helps in building personal strength and resilience by reinforcing positive thinking, self-driven actions, and enough space for self-expression (Kuyken, Padesky, Dudley, 2009).

The basic principle of CBT is that our thoughts are the root cause of our troubles, and it attempts to modify how we think, feel, and act, with the ultimate goal of pumping up self-awareness.

There are overwhelming pieces of evidence that portray the benefits of using CBT in treating depression, anxiety, and mood disorders (Chambless & Ollendick, 2001; DeRubeis & Crits-Christoph, 1998).

The core principle of CBT is developing a self-driven attitude among individuals, where they can step up to bring the change that they want in life.
The methods are tied in with self-motivation, solution-orientation, a reality base, and meta-cognitive awareness, leading to sustained improvements in mental health and lifestyle.

Learn more about CBT here.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness, or the art of being present in the moment, is a cluster of positive techniques that promote well-being and inner peace. Having roots embedded in ancient Buddhism and yogic practices, mindfulness spreads the message of dwelling in the ‘now’ and getting rid of what has been.

Mindfulness follows a blend of scientific and spiritual traditions – meditation, prayers, breath control, and sensory awareness being some of the critical interventions. It is extensively used to treat an array of mental health conditions and helps in mood management, lifestyle modification, aftercare for PTSD, and emotional support counseling. (5)

Studies indicate that mindfulness-based positive interventions increase subjective feelings of wellness and are beneficial for both the clinical and the non-clinical population (Grossman et al., 2004).

At a physiological level, mindful practices improve cardiac functions, builds immunity, and maintains an optimal hormonal balance in the body. On a psychological level, it helps in minimizing our negative thoughts, maximizing positive experiences, and optimizing our inner strengths and abilities.

Research on the efficacy of mindfulness by Ryan M. Niemiec clearly explained the link mindfulness has with personal strength, character building, and positive outcomes. He indicated that mindful positive interventions that build intrinsic motivation and supports our overall prosperity include – Mindfulness-based strength practice (MBSP), Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and Mindfulness-based meditation practices.

The research clearly showed that mindfulness practices consider a wide range of population and can be effectively used for promoting recovery and self-improvement.

3. Narrative Psychotherapy

Another positive intervention noteworthy to mention is the narrative psychology or the narrative psychotherapy. Narrative psychotherapy brings the power of self-expression by letting individuals translate their emotions and feelings in words. (6)

Narrative psychology joins three aspects of wellness:

Narrative psychotherapy approaches involve asking individuals to write about their emotional experiences and reading it to themselves for identifying the negative thoughts and challenging to replace them. Some narrative psychotherapies encourage participants to make a story based on their personal experiences and think about how they can transform the negative consequences to positive ones.

Narrative psychotherapy benefits people who lack self-expression or are introverts by nature, people with high levels of aggression, and those who are struggling with anger management (Christensen, Smith, 1993).

You can learn more about Narrative Therapy (NT) here.

4. Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence Therapy (R.T.) stands out among traditional positive interventions that promote well-being through present or future-oriented exercises. Dr. Robert Butler, a geriatric psychiatrist, was the first one to come up with the idea that recollecting memories can be therapeutic (Butler, 1960).

Butler argued that reminiscing old memories, especially for people who are nearing death or undergoing severe depression, allows them to put their lives in perspective. It is not about looking back here; it is about finding the meaning of the ‘now’ through what has already been.

Reminiscence Therapy boosts self-esteem and brings in the sense of fulfillment in the individual. For older people, reminiscing their past motivates them to speak and share their experiences with the therapist, thereby fostering self-expression and emotional catharsis.

Besides benefiting the older population, R.T. is also a treatment of choice for dementia and Alzheimer’s, where patients are given cues of information and are probed to recall what they remember about it. Reminiscence therapy cultivates happiness and positivity.

Learn more about Reminiscence Therapy here.

5 Positive Actions That Improves Mental Health

Tal Ben-Shahar, in his book ‘Happier,’ explained that practicing positivity is the real pursuit of happiness, and it guarantees lifelong satisfaction. His works on the science of happiness indicate that we can recraft our lives by some simple positive interventions, such as:

1. Counting your blessings

Making a list of the things that make us happy and the people who mean the most to us brings the meaning of sense and fulfillment in our lives (Diener and Diener, 1996). We feel more grateful and lucky immediately.

The practice is simple:

2. Learning from the negative experiences

As the famous saying goes, “If you want your present to be different from your past, study the past” (Baruch Spinoza).

Negative encounters can teach us plenty of positive life lessons. Prof Ben-Shahar, in his works on positive psychology, has repeatedly mentioned that past experiences make a person more resilient to stress, and once we overcome the adversity, we become more appreciative of the life that we have now.

3. Practicing gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool for self-enhancement. Just by listing the people and the things we are grateful for, or taking a moment to express our thankfulness to someone verbally, we can feel better about ourselves. Daily gratitude practices may include gratitude journaling, gratitude visits or gratitude notes, etc.

4. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

While it is true that happiness improves lifestyle, research has also proved how a healthy lifestyle can culminate happiness. Ben Shahar said that a positive lifestyle acts as a natural healing mechanism.

These positive practices help the body release harmful toxins and function as antidepressants. A study on the relationship between psychological well-being and health revealed that individuals who had a better lifestyle (including a healthy diet, good sleep, and regular exercise), showed lesser susceptibility to diseases and psychological distress (McCullough, 2002).

5. Monitoring mood

The mood is the thread that links our thoughts and actions. We know how we are feeling from inside by gauging our mood states. Positive psychology believes that creating a personal mood chart can be a great way to keep track of the ups and downs in mood and understand why we feel the way we do.

Making a mood chart is fun and straightforward. You only have to be true to yourself and make honest notes about your feelings throughout the day. Keep aside a few minutes every day to fill in your mood journal and notice how it guides you to better self-understanding.

Take Home Message

The happiness that we seek outside is already there within us. All we need to do is slow down and take a moment to look for it.

Positive psychology paves the way for us to pause and appreciate the wonders that are already in our lives. It does not contradict or contrast traditional mental health practices but rather complements them by changing our thoughts and actions for the better (Ben-Shahar, 2007).

The goal of any positive intervention is to explore the three regimes of happiness – the short-term pleasures, the joy from connecting with others, and deriving happiness from attaining a deeper meaning of life. No matter what interventions we practice and what kind of therapy we choose for ourselves, positive psychology shows us how to “Be filled with wonder, and touched by peace.”

  1. Allport, 1955, 1961; May, 1940; Maslow, 1964, 1974; Rogers, 1961; 2012; 1980
  2. World Health Organization. Promoting Mental Health. Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004
  3. Davidson, Sells, Sangster, O’Connell : Recovery in mental illness. Broadening our Understanding of Wellness, 2005
  4. Seligman 2002 :Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment
  5. Shapiro Meditation: Self-regulation strategy and altered states of consciousness. New York: Aldine; 1980
  6. Niederhoffer, Pennebaker, Snyder, Lopez, 2002; 573–583
  7. Seligman, M.E.P., & Csikzentmihalyi, M. (2000) Positive Psychology: An Introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 1. 5-14
  8. Seligman, M.E.P. et al. Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 2005. 60(5): 410-421.
  9. Sheldon, K.M. and L. King. Why positive psychology is necessary. American Psychologist, 2001. 56(3): 216-217.

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How Medicinal Mushrooms are taking the nutrition world by storm

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According to several sources, mushrooms will be trending the nutrition world in 2019. For the last few years, I’ve been exploring the world of medicinal mushrooms for health related purposes. Recently, I found out that mushrooms are more amazing than I ever thought possible.

Some commonly reported benefits of medicinal mushrooms include

My personal experience

My first medicinal mushroom supplement was Lion’s Mane mixed with coffee powder which my husband and I drank for a few months. At the end of last year, my doctor recommended that I start taking a supplement in the form of a capsule that contained a blend of mushrooms.

For the last month, I have been adding Chaga powder to my coffee and tea to really target some of the problems I’d been dealing with, specifically Epstein Barr Virus. In spite of recently added stressors in my life, I am feeling my energy levels improve gradually. My Snapchat friends got regular updates 🙂

Some commonly studied types of mushrooms and their benefits include:

Chaga – Mushrooms are extremely high in antioxidants and has been crowned as “the kind of medicinal mushrooms.” Chaga has been said to slow down the effects of aging and detoxify our livers. Traditionally Chaga extract has been used to treat cancer as lab studies have shown it effective against human cancer cells. During chemotherapy, Chaga can help to improve immunity.

The anti-inflammatory properties in Chaga help to alleviate many degenerative diseases. In addition, Chaga contains compounds which breakdown LDL cholesterol and can lead to better blood pressure levels. Chaga has the ability to protect mitochondria from damage caused by free radicals.

When our immune system is overreacting Chaga is able to calm it down. This is why it is so beneficial in treating autoimmune disorders. It is said to be very beneficial for people who have reactivated Epstein Barr virus or EBV

Cordyceps mushrooms have been used by athletes to increase endurance and stamina by helping to increase the uptake of oxygen in our blood while fighting respiratory infections.

Reishi can help ease insomnia and help us make the most of our waking hours. “Known by some cultures as the “mushroom of immortality” Reishi has been used for thousands of years to increase vitality, bolster the immune system, support cardiovascular health and promote longevity.”

Turkey Tail – Turkey tail has the potential to increase the white blood cell count in the body and preventing the further growth of cancer cells. mushrooms have shown promise in reducing the side effects of cancer treatments and may even be able to stave off the common cold and flu.

Medicinal mushrooms have been proposed as a novel therapy that may improve cancer treatment and patients’ survival. Mushrooms are reported to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular-protective, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, and anticancer properties. It is well-established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation… Extensive research over the last 40 years has demonstrated that mushrooms have potent antineoplastic properties that slow growth of tumors, regulate tumor genes, decrease tumoral angioneogenesis, and increase malignant-cell phagocytosis. Additionally, evidence suggests that medicinal mushrooms may safely boost chemotherapeutic efficacy and simultaneously protect against bone marrow suppression. (source)

This article in Discover magazine suggests at least six ways mushrooms can save the world including cleaning up oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, and the Pioppino mushrooms which induced tumor regression, reversing cancer in lab mice. The species also controlled blood sugar in diabetic mice.  In addition, Mycologist Paul Stamets lists 6 ways the mycelium fungus can help save the world: cleaning polluted soil, making insecticides, treating smallpox and even flu viruses.

Are mushrooms for me?

By now I’m sure you are wondering how to get started using mushrooms for health! Are you wanting more energy, enhanced memory and focus or immune support? Find out which mushroom best meets your needs: Meet the Mushroom.

Recently, I have added Freshcap Mushroom’s blend called THRIVE 6 which is made from a blend of six incredible strains of mushrooms and can help to naturally strengthen the immune system, supercharge your focus, and promote an increase in energy. These ultra-potent extract powders can be conveniently added to drinks like coffee/ tea or to your favorite foods—the taste is mild and earthy so it blends in seamlessly without taking away from the flavor of your meal.

To help my children enjoy the benefits of Thrive 6 I added it to some nut butter balls I made as a dessert. It’s super easy to throw together! I mixed 1 cup of nut butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, and 2 tablespoons of the Thrive 6, combined well and formed into balls. I coated some with chocolate, others I left plain. Popped those in the fridge and watched them disappear over the next few days.

I’ve also added it to my salad dressings, stirred a little into my bowl of soup, and continued to add it to my drinks. Here’s a recipe you can use to make Mushroom Powered Cauliflower Pizza Crust!

Although women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or those with low blood pressure should wait to start taking mushrooms; everyone else should be able to start taking mushrooms in moderation and build up.

I mentioned medicinal mushrooms to Jami, my co-host on Jubilee Road Podcast, when she was telling us the story of her hiney healing mystery! Listen to the podcast below or become a Patron and watch the video (oh my!) on Jubilee Road’s Patreon Page.

Bottom line: Get more of these superfoods in your life, spend more time in nature, wait well, unplug, de-stress, and chill out; you only have one life to live on this Earth!

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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