Translator: Linda Anderson
Reviewer: Rebecca DeHovitz So, I have a Facebook friend
whose life seems perfect. She lives in a gorgeous house. And she has a really rewarding career. And she and her family go on all these exciting adventures
together on the weekends. And I swear that they must take a professional photographer
along with them, (Laughter) because no matter where they go
or what they do, the whole family just looks beautiful. And she’s always posting
about how blessed she is, and how grateful she is
for the life that she has. And I get the feeling
that she’s not just saying those things for the sake of Facebook,
but she truly means it. How many of you have a friend
kind of like that? And how many of you kind of don’t like that person sometimes? (Laughter) We all do this, right? It’s hard not to do. But that way of thinking
costs us something. And that’s what I want to talk
to you about today– is what our bad habits cost us. Maybe you’ve scrolled through
your Facebook feed and you think, “So what
if I roll my eyes? It’s just five seconds of my time. How could it be hurting me?” Well, researchers have found that envying your friends on Facebook, actually leads to depression. That’s just one of the traps
that our minds can set for us. Have you ever complained about your boss? Or looked at your friends’
lives and thought, “Why do they have all the luck?” You can’t help thinking that way, right? That way of thinking seems
small in the moment. In fact, it might even make you feel
better in the moment. But that way of thinking is
eating away at your mental strength. There’s three kinds of destructive beliefs that make us less effective, and rob us of our mental strength. The first one is unhealthy
beliefs about ourselves. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves. And while it’s OK to be sad
when something bad happens, self-pity goes beyond that. It’s when you start
to magnify your misfortune. When you think things like, “Why do these things
always have to happen to me?” “I shouldn’t have to deal with it.” That way of thinking keeps you stuck, keeps you focused on the problem, keeps you from finding a solution. And even when you can’t create a solution, you can always take steps to make
your life or somebody else’s life better. But you can’t do that when you’re busy
hosting your own pity party. The second type of destructive
belief that holds us back is unhealthy beliefs about others. We think that other people can control us, and we give away our power. But as adults who live in a free country, there’s very few things in life
that you have to do. So when you say, “I have to work late,” you give away your power. Yeah, maybe there will be
consequences if you don’t work late, but it’s still a choice. Or when you say, “My
mother-in-law drives me crazy,” you give away your power. Maybe she’s not the nicest
person on earth, but it’s up to you how you respond to her, because you’re in control. The third type of unhealthy
belief that holds us back, is unhealthy beliefs about the world. We tend to think that the world
owes us something. We think, “If I put in enough hard work, then I deserve success.” But expecting success
to fall into your lap like some sort of cosmic reward, will only lead to disappointment. But I know it’s hard to give up
our bad mental habits. It’s hard to get rid of those
unhealthy beliefs that we’ve carried around
with us for so long. But you can’t afford not to give them up. Because sooner or later, you’re
going to hit a time in your life where you need all the mental
strength that you can muster. When I was 23 years old, I thought I had life all figured out. I graduated from grad school. I landed my first big job as a therapist. I got married. And I even bought a house. And I thought,
“This is going to be great!” “I’ve got this incredible
jump start on success.” What could go wrong? That all changed for me one day when I got a phone call from my sister. She said that our mother
was found unresponsive and she’d been taken to the hospital. My husband Lincoln and I jumped
in the car and rushed to the hospital. We couldn’t imagine what could be wrong. My mother was only 51. She didn’t have any history
of any kind of health problems. When we got to the hospital, doctors explained she’d had
a brain aneurysm. And within 24 hours, my mother, who used to wake up in the morning
saying, “It’s a great day to be alive,” passed away. That news was devastating to me. My mother and I had been very close. As a therapist, I knew on an intellectual
level how to go through grief. But knowing it, and doing it,
can be two very different things. It took a long time before I felt
like I was really healing. And then on the three year anniversary
of my mother’s death, some friends called, and invited Lincoln and me
to a basketball game. Coincidentally, it was being played at the same auditorium
where I’d last seen my mother, on the night before she’d passed away. I hadn’t been back there since. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go back. But Lincoln and I talked about it,
and ultimately we said, “Maybe that would be a good way
to honor her memory.” So we went to the game. And we actually had a really good
time with our friends. On the drive home that night, we talked about how great it was to finally be able to go
back to that place, and remember my mother with a smile, rather than all those feelings of sadness. But shortly after we got home that night,
Lincoln said he didn’t feel well. A few minutes later, he collapsed. I had to call for an ambulance. His family met me at the emergency room. We waited for what seemed like forever, until finally a doctor came out. But rather than taking
us out back to see Lincoln, he took us back to a private room, and sat us down, and explained to us that Lincoln, who was the most adventurous
person I’d ever met, was gone. We didn’t know at the time,
but he’d had a heart attack. He was only 26. He didn’t have any history
of heart problems. So now I found myself a 26-year-old widow, and I didn’t have my mom. I thought, “How am I going
to get through this/” And to describe that
as a painful period in my life feels like an understatement. And it was during that time
that I realized when you’re really going
through tough times, good habits aren’t enough. It only takes one or two small habits to really hold you back. I worked as hard as I could, not just to create good habits in my life, but to get rid of those small habits, no matter how small they might seem. Throughout it all, I held out hope that someday
life could get better. And eventually it did. A few years down the road, I met Steve. And we fell in love. And I got remarried. We sold the house that
Lincoln and I had lived in, and we bought a new house, in a new area, and I got a new job. But almost as quickly
as I breathed my sigh of relief over that fresh start that I had, we got the news that Steve’s dad
had terminal cancer. And I started to think, “Why do these things always
have to keep happening?” “Why do I have to keep losing
all my loved ones?” “This isn’t fair.” But if I’d learned anything, it was that that way of thinking
would hold me back. I knew I was going to need as much mental strength as I could muster, to get through one more loss. So I sat down and I wrote a list of all the things mentally
strong people don’t do. And I read over that list. It was a reminder of all
of those bad habits that I’d done at one time or another,
that would keep me stuck. And I kept reading
that list over and over. And I really needed it. Because within a few weeks of writing it, Steve’s dad passed away. My journey taught me that the secret
to being mentally strong, was that you had to give up
your bad mental habits. Mental strength is a lot
like physical strength. If you wanted to be physically strong, you’d need to go to the gym
and lift weights. But if you really wanted to see results, you’d also have to give up
eating junk food. Mental strength is the same. If you want to be mentally strong, you need good habits
like practicing gratitude. But you also have to give up bad habits, like resenting somebody else’s success. No matter how often that happens, it will hold you back. So, how do you train
your brain to think differently? How do you give up those bad mental habits that you’ve carried around with you? It starts by countering those
unhealthy beliefs that I talked about, with healthier ones. For example, unhealthy
beliefs about ourselves mostly come about because we’re
uncomfortable with our feelings. Feeling sad, or hurt, or angry, or scared, those things are all uncomfortable. So we go to great lengths
to avoid that discomfort. We try to escape it by doing things like hosting a pity party. And although that’s
a temporary distraction, it just prolongs the pain. The only way to get through
uncomfortable emotions, the only way to deal with them,
is you have to go through them. To let yourself feel sad,
and then move on. To gain confidence in your ability to deal with that discomfort. Unhealthy beliefs about others come about because we compare
ourselves to other people. We think that they’re
either above us or below us. Or we think that they can
control how we feel. Or that we can control how they behave. Or we blame them for holding us back. But really, it’s our own
choices that do that. You have to accept
that you’re your own person, and other people are separate from you. The only person you should
compare yourself to, is the person that you were yesterday. And unhealthy beliefs
about the world come about because deep down,
we want the world to be fair. We want to think that if we
put in enough good deeds, enough good things will happen to us. Or if we tough it out
through enough bad times, we’ll get some sort of reward. But ultimately you have
to accept that life isn’t fair. And that can be liberating. Yeah, it means you won’t necessarily
be rewarded for your goodness, but it also means no matter
how much you’ve suffered, you’re not doomed to keep suffering. The world doesn’t work that way. Your world is what you make it. But of course before you
can change your world, you have to believe
that you can change it. I once worked with this man
who had been diabetic for years. His doctor referred him to therapy because he had some bad mental habits that were starting to affect
his physical health. His mother had died from complications
of diabetes at a young age, so he just believed he was doomed, and he’d given up trying to manage
his blood sugar altogether. In fact, his blood sugar
had gotten so high lately, that it was starting to affect his vision. And he had his driver’s
license taken away. And his world was shrinking. When he came into my office, it was clear he knew all the things
he could do to manage his blood sugar. He just didn’t think
it was worth the effort. But eventually, he agreed
to make one small change. He said, “I’ll give up
my two liter-a-day Pepsi habit, and I’ll trade it in for Diet Pepsi.” And he couldn’t believe how quickly
his numbers started to improve. And even though he came every week to remind me how horrible
Diet Pepsi tasted, he stuck with it. And once he started to see
a little bit of improvement, he said, “Well, maybe I could
look at some of my other habits.” He said, “I could trade in
my nightly bowl of ice cream for a snack with a little less sugar.” And then one day he was at a thrift
store with some friends, and he found this beat-up
old exercise bike. He bought it for a couple of bucks, and he brought it home,
and he parked it in front of his TV. And he started to pedal while he’d watch some
of his favorite shows every night. And not only did he lose weight, but one day, he noticed
he could see the TV just a little bit more clearly
than he had before. And suddenly it occurred to him, maybe the damage done
to his eyesight wasn’t permanent. So he set a new goal for himself– to get his driver’s license back. And from that day forward, he was on fire. By the end of our time together,
he was coming in every week saying, “OK, what are we
going to do this week?” Because he finally believed
that he could change his world. And that he had the mental
strength to change it. And that he could give up
his bad mental habits. And it all started
with just one small step. So I invite you to consider what bad mental habits
are holding you back? What unhealthy beliefs are keeping you from being
as mentally strong as you could be? And what is one small step
that you could take today? Right here, right now. Thank you. (Applause)