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PsychNotes July 2013
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

Index        Previous        Next

July 30, 2013


Many people assume that intelligence is associated with greater well-being and satisfaction in life. However, research has not shown this to be accurate. The problem with the research results, however, may reside in the definition of intelligence. Most research has focused strictly on analytical intelligence as measured by standard intelligence tests. However, when “wise reasoning” is examined rather than analytical intelligence, the results are very different.

“Wise reasoning” is defined as the ability to solve practical problems with strategies that consider the social context and the differences between people. In other words, wisdom gained from life experience has been shown to be associated with greater well-being, life satisfaction, stable positive emotions, better relationships, and increased life-span (Grossmann, et al., 2013).

Life experience itself does not create wisdom. You must be willing to be open to learning from life experience and be able to apply what you have learned to future situations. The more you can truly perceive “life's lessons” as learning experiences you will gain wisdom. In addition, wisdom can be gained by seeking the guidance of others who have learned practical strategies to problem-solving. Wisdom helps you to avoid or solve problems which can provide greater satisfaction and even a longer life.

Grossmann, I., Na, J., Varnum, M.E.W., Kitayama, S. and Nisbett, R.E. (2013). A Route to Well-Being: Intelligence Versus Wise Reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 944–953.

July 29, 2013 This audio discusses obstacles to success. In particular, it examines ways of thinking about risk that can interfere with success and points out the importance of planning to create a calculated risk that is more likely to lead to success. About 8 minutes.

July 28, 2013

Cognitive Diary Training Example: DOCTOR IS FRUSTRATED WITH ME

EVENT: I have a recurring infection and when I went to see my doctor for the third time she seemed irritated and said with a sigh “All I can do is write another prescription. Be sure you take it as prescribed.” I always do as she says but she seemed to accuse me anyway.

EMOTIONS: guilt, self-blame

DISTRESS RATING: 6—feeling bad

THOUGHTS: "She thinks I'm not following her advice and is angry with me for not getting rid of this infection. I feel guilty so I must be doing something wrong and I should be more careful in following her instructions."

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of guilt and self-blame?


tropical garden July 27, 2013 This audio creates the image of a beautiful tropical garden on a hot day. Although it can be used just for relaxation (for those who like warmth), it can also aid in learning to create mindfulness when the body may not be completely comfortable--in this instance, feeling the heat but focusing on the full experience of the garden.

July 26, 2013

Cognitive Diary Training Example: BOYFRIEND FORGOT BIRTHDAY

The following is an example to help learn how to identify and change irrational thinking.

EVENT: My boyfriend forgot my birthday even though I went to a lot of effort for his birthday a couple months ago.

THOUGHTS: "He must not really care about me if he doesn't remember my birthday. He should know how important my birthday is. After all, I bought him a gift and made him a cake and dinner for his birthday. I do so much for him and he doesn't do anything for me!"

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the anger.


July 24, 2013 This audio teaches you about how to think about your body and weight in a different way. Instead of thinking of weight loss in perfectionistic terms that lead to a cycle of dieting and failure, you can learn to think about caring for your body and setting manageable healthy goals. The audio is meant to be listened to repeatedly so that the thinking style can become more automatic. About 13 minutes.

July 14, 2013


My eleven-year-old granddaughter fought for her brown belt yesterday. As I watched her and the other children persist through the pain, tears, and sometimes blood, I thought, “These are the kids that will have the advantage as adults. They will have the confidence to face adversity and to persevere.”

Throughout my training in the martial arts, I've been impressed as I've watched fearful, and even uncontrollable, children grow into self-confident and successful adults. The Martial Arts Center where my granddaughter and I train does not make it easy to get a belt. The tests are grueling, requiring the children to engage in multiple styles of fighting over a two-hour period. The ones who prevail through the adversity in spite of the demands, the pain, and even the desire to quit, not only receive a higher rank but they obtain important life lessons.

These children learn to not back down when faced with a difficult challenge in life. They learn that anything can be surmountable. They learn that persistence leads to success. They learn that pain and adversity can be overcome.

But these children did not accomplish this feat alone. I have also been impressed with the parents who instead of succumbing to the natural instinct of protecting their children, wipe the tears away and with a few words of encouragement send the children back to the fight. These are the parents who know that life isn't easy and that giving into their child's fears will only hurt him or her as an adult. However, at the same time, these parents support, nurture, and help their children face these difficulties.

In addition, the instructor knows just how much to demand of each of his students so they can be challenged but successful in facing the challenge. He encourages them when they need support, but demands that they push themselves to their limit. In this way, the children learn step-by-step that they can do it--belief in themselves is created.

Although I'm talking about martial arts in this situation, it is not necessary that children be participating in martial arts to learn these lessons. What is necessary is that parents and other adults in the child's life recognize that controlled adversity and challenges are healthy for children. Instead of protecting children from normal problems, the parent's job is to pick the child up, wipe away the tears with some comforting words of encouragement, and teach the child how to handle those problems.

July 13, 2013


Most weight loss plans focus on developing maintenance skills after the weight loss occurs and typically find that on average participants gain back almost 50% of the lost weight within a year. However, researchers at Stanford University (Kiernan, et.al, 2013) found that helping participants to create healthy lifestyle skills over a two-month period before starting a weight loss program decreased the weight gain that occurs after weight loss by almost 50%.

These skills include:
1) Education regarding nutrition and physical activity.
2) Learning to not feel deprived while eating healthy portions.
3) Learning to use the scale without negative judgments.
4) Developing simple adjustments to eating behaviors and/or activity level to counter-balance when over-eating occurs.
5) Learning how to handle disruptions to healthy eating.

Kiernan, M., Brown, S.D., Schoffman, D.E., Lee, K., King, A.C., Taylor, C.B., Schleicher, N.C. And Perri, M.G. (2013). Promoting Healthy Weight with “Stability Skills First”: A Randomized Trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81, 336-346.

July 12, 2013 Discusses how to transfer practice skills to real-life situations. Although the question involves sport psychology, it also applies to other types of anxiety-producing situations.

July 5, 2013 This audio discusses the concept of magical thinking to help those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) challenge the underlying thinking of certain types of obsessions and compulsions.

Magical thinking involves a certain type of obsession that is very similar to superstitious thinking. It involves linking events that cannot logically be related to one anothe. Some forms of scrupulosity may involve magical thinking.

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank

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