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How a Yellow Brick Road Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

How a Yellow Brick Road Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

In a world of instant gratification, it’s easy to get obsessed with finding a silver bullet solution to life’s trials and tribulations. We want to take a pill and be thin overnight, invest in the right stock and be set for life, click our heels three times and be taken home. We say, “If I just had X everything would be perfect. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Life would be so easy!” Some people can waste years waiting to win the lottery or be discovered by Oprah, hoping it will solve all their problems.

What makes the pursuit of silver bullets so tragic is the years lost to pipe dreams. All this wasted time could have been better spent investing in a 401K or building an author platform. Instead of chasing rainbows, you can work towards goals that not only create a solid foundation that makes success more secure, but also achieve them via a process that results in more happiness and contentment in your life. Science has shown us, time and again, what we already know to be true (but are often in denial about): the joy is in the journey. Put another way, happiness lies in its pursuit.

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In the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is instructed to “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” if she wants to get back home to Kansas. By the end of the story, we find out that because she’s been wearing the Ruby Slippers the whole time, at any point in her journey, she could have just clicked her heels three times and transported herself home instantly. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

We always have the opportunity to take the shortcuts in life – to check out, to phone it in, to not bother trying. We start out on our own Yellow Brick Road, determined to reach our Emerald City. When the journey gets hard, though, we can start looking for Ruby Red Slippers – magical shortcuts to achieve our dreams. When we find ourselves in a Haunted Forest or Witch’s Castle, it’s tempting to balk and look for an easy way out. What we have to remember is that our journey is what defines us, not our prizes and trophies. When asked why she didn’t tell Dorothy about the Ruby Slippers’ power earlier Glinda says, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.” It is these very trials and tribulations life puts us through that enable us to grow stronger, be braver, and become more resilient over time. In fact, it is often not the achievement of goals that leads to happiness. Rather, it is the pursuit of those goals, that brings us the contentment we long for. A recent study even shows that anticipating something can be more enjoyable than actually getting it.

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So how do stay on your Yellow Brick Road, and keep your journey interesting enough to resist the temptation of the occasional pair of Ruby Slippers? How do you craft a life filled with lasting happiness?

Start with these bits of advice:

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  1. Have a Vision for a Quest that fits with your personal interests and values. Shoot for Mastery (attaining progress and growth) goals, versus Performance (demonstrating skill or ability) goals.
  2. Focus on intrinsic goals, not extrinsic goals. Intrinsic aspirations are related to what’s inside the self, rather than to what’s outside the self.
  3. Always “chunk down” big goals into smaller, achievable goals that are progressively more challenging.
  4. Implement an evaluation process (for example, “Plan > Do > Review”) to track your progress.

It was a long journey that enabled Dorothy to see what she was capable of during her adventure in The Wizard of Oz. The Dorothy at the end of the story, isn’t the same girl she was at the beginning. She’s a stronger person because of the challenges she had to overcome along the way. We all have it in us to take the path less traveled by, rather than bypass it for the instant gratification offered by some Ruby Slippers. When you have the chance to click your heels, or follow the yellow brick road, think twice. Even if your end destination is the same, it is how you get there that is will ultimately define who you are when you do arrive.

Featured photo credit: airdiogo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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