December 2014 Roundup – Sensitivity, Parenting, Taking Action, & Happiness

December’s Most Popular Topics:
Sensitivity, Dads, Confidence, New Year Happiness

The December 2014 roundup features the most popular posts of the past month, including discussions on emotional sensitivity, parenting, taking action, and cultivating happiness. I chose these topics because December is a month filled with holiday preparations and end of the year demands – and the emotions that go along with both. Here are the top three posts of the month, as well as two favorites from previous months in the year 2014 that help us look toward 2015.

The Highly Sensitive Person

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.05.30 PMThe most viewed post this month was on the 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People, written by Amanda Chan. As a Bose-headphones-wearing mom around the house, I get it. Sensory sensitivity is real, and its relationship to emotions and mood is unmistakable. As the days shorten, and the demands of life accelerate this time of year, it isn’t hard to feel more emotional. It could be that you are inherently more sensitive than others, and will therefore feel this pressure more acutely. This great post describes the phenomena of the highly sensitive person, a concept defined by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. in the 1990s through her book of a similar title.

Even if you are tough as nails, chances are you know or love someone who is sensitive, and sometimes confusingly so. I love this roundup of sensitivity traits based on Aron’s book. I was reminded of this concept recently when a patient came to her session and announced she had solved the riddle of herself through this concept. Every point fit her, and she felt relieved to finally be understood, and to have answers to her personality quandries. We all long to have explanations for the elements of our life that are challenging, and being more sensitive than your peers or family can be disconcerting, and even scary. If you feel you are oversensitive, or know someone who is, this post successfully helps explain the personality traits associated with highly sensitive people.

Dads and Daughters.

n-JUSTIN-RICKLEFS-large570The next most popular post this past month was 15 Things All Dads of Daughters Should Know. In this sensitive piece, author and dad, Justin Ricklefs bravely writes about what he has learned raising four daughters under 11 years old. He notes familiar reminders like listen to her, show her that she is loved, and focus on her inner beauty, rather than her outer beauty.  My favorite point he makes is in treating your daughter’s mom well. I agree with Ricklefs’ premise that daughters’ expectations of future relationships are based on their perception of how dad treats mom. The author compellingly implores dads (and parents) to fight for their marital relationship. Not only is this the answer to keeping your relationship strong and healthy, but focusing on your relationship with your wife lays down healthy expectations for your daughter in her future marriage.

Action and Confidence; Inaction and Anxiety.Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 5.02.04 PM

A meme posting a favorite quote by Norman Vincent Peale was well received this past month having to do with action’s influence on confidence, and inaction’s influence on anxiety. Taking action can mitigate anxiety’s harmful effects, and drive growth. This is a hopeful reality deeply rooted in the adaptation of our species. The intricate relationship between anxiety and action is a cornerstone of my treatment philosophy, and an idea that resonates and offers needed hope for many who struggle with anxiety.

What Makes Us Happy?

The research on happiness is apropos for looking ahead at making new starts for the upcoming year. So, what makes us happy? Eric Barker’s year-end roundup, Happy Thoughts: Here Are the Things Proven To Make You Happier details this subject well. In particular, I’d like to highlight the helpful effects of gratitude on happiness – the research on that topic is increasingly prevalent. In general, this blogger does an excellent job of distilling information on key elements of leadership, wellness, and happiness, and his posts are always plentifully hyperlinked for those who wish to further research.

Effects of Happiness.

Happiness isn’t only good for our mood, it turns out it’s great for our work performance, too. Research shows that when people work with a positive mindset, productivity, creativity, and engagement improve. In Shawn Achor’s post Positive Intelligence, excerpted from his book The Happiness Advantage, the author shares top tips on how to foster happiness through gratitude, kindness to others, mindfulness, and exercise.

May your 2015 be filled with self-awareness, action, and happiness.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD