Friday, February 21, 2014

Figuring Out Positive Psychology for Cateepoo

I recently listened to a podcast on "positive psychology".  This was a new concept to me, but it has been whirling around in my mind and forced me to take a good look at myself....again.

The last three years or so, my mind has felt a little out of whack.  I added to my work schedule and was stressed out for a while, so that seemed an easy answer to the problem. I reduced my stress and reorganized my schedule to fit my needs better, but things still didn't feel completely aligned. My take away from the positive psychology podcast was that I need to look at my past, especially the parts of my past that were successful and build on those times. In doing so, I had two revelations.  One, I have become a podcast addict.  There.  I said it.  It's true. With large amounts of time in the car, I have been filling every minute with constant noise rather than letting my mind have some quiet down time as I did in the past and really need. Two, I have been listening to what these podcast "experts" think I should eat and how I should live my life rather than listening to myself, the true expert on Cateepoo.

After figuring out what has changed for me, I had to ask myself, "Why?".  The majority of the podcasts I listen to are Paleo related. I started the Paleo diet almost four years ago because it fits well with how I feel about food and life in general. It highly recommends buying local, organic, and free range food which I have been doing more of for the last 10-11 years.  The diet/lifestyle promotes eating fresh whole foods - minus grains, legumes, and dairy, putting the focus on meat, vegetables, and fruits. Movement is encouraged, especially lifting weights. Since I tend to want to know all there is about the philosophies I believe in and have tons of time in the car, it makes sense that I started listening to a variety of Paleo podcasts.

I  believe in the philosophy of this lifestyle and hope to continue making it more of a part of my life.  In order to do so, I need to make some changes. To me, the Paleo lifestyle is all about simplifying your life and finding balance. (A little humorous since it seems like I have become less balanced.). So first, I need to reduce the number/amount of time I spend listening to podcasts.  There is an enormous amount of information out there as this movement grows and develops.   There are blogs, books, and podcasts in ever growing numbers.  I sometimes feel my brain is bombarded with information, especially as many people are making this their living and constantly promoting themselves. There is a lot of fantastic information out there, but there comes a point when it is too much to consume.  I realized this while listening to the podcast on positive psychology. I have to go back to the days when I got in my car after work, left the radio off, and just had time to decompress rather than right away taking in more information.

In addition to spending way too much time listening to podcasts,  I have been spending too much time taking the advice of all the Paleo pod-casters I listen to.  Sure, a lot of them have fantastic information, but not when it sacrifices me listening to myself. Calm minded Cateepoo of the past listened to her own advice.  I have been allowing the "experts" to dictate what type of food to eat (I enjoy a little rice a few days a week), sleep to get (I love sleep and get as much as I can, but with crazy schedules, my priority is seeing my family), and exercise to get rather than doing what comes best for me - listening to myself.  An example of this is that I had stopped doing some of my cardio workouts because the host on this same podcast repeats in every podcast that it isn't good for us. "Lift weights and sprint. Avoid cardio."  That is the message heard over and over.  I like lifting weights, but honestly I hate sprinting so I don't do it.  It isn't enjoyable to me and it hurts my knees.  Wanting to go back to what worked in the past,  I found some cardio type workouts similar to what I did in the past and instantly my mind felt clearer.  My energy levels increased.  I look forward to working out. I even look forward to moving more during the day. Research and case studies that are shared on these podcasts are great, but when it comes down to it, I know myself better than anyone else. I am the expert on Cateepoo. This is how I have lived my life as a homeschooling mother and how I have dealt with my rheumatoid arthritis.  It only makes sense to be the expert in all areas of my life.

Once again I want to let my mind have time to rest after work.  I want to take my morning walk without earbuds so that I can listen to the birds, the wind, and other outdoor noises again. I want my mind to be clear so that when my husband or children laugh or want to share something with me, I have the room in my mind to listen.  My mind has felt like it is overflowing with information.  It is time to slow it down and go back to listening to my internal voice rather than the voices of  ten different podcasters that feel they know what is best for me.

I like the idea of positive psychology.  It makes sense to build on what has made me successful.  I know that eating well, reducing my stress, exercising/general movement, quiet time alone and with family are what works for me.  My mind is doing a happy dance as it realizes it is once again listening to the one person who knows what is best for it- me!


  1. Cathy,

    This is a great message for everyone! I used to mock my husband for watching the Discovery Channel. Using the tv to learn something seemed ridiculous to me, as this is where I let my brain "shut off". After completing my master's degree, I banned all non-fiction from my life and warmly welcomed the "for-fun" reading. Remarkably, over the past year and a bit, I have found a voracious appetite for information. I've read probably a lot of the same things as you (Primal Blueprint, Wheat Belly, Paleo Diet Solution, Grain Brain, etc). I never wanted to know how my body worked, and now I just find all of this completely fascinating. And, ironically, I have RA to thank.

    As you know, I too have embraced paleo/primal. I felt wonderful, until I didn't. My RA has been active now since November. I still read and follow paleo books and blogs, but I've started reading books like "The Power of Now" and "Full Catastrophe Living" and learning about the importance of meditation, which I hope to incorporate more and more into my life. It actually surprised me to read that you drive in silence, as most of my drives are spent constantly flipping through radio stations. I will try that tonight, as my commute is quite long and often a cause of stress for me.

    Since Feb 1, I have been on the Paleo AIP - which certainly feels much more like a "diet" than "mostly" paleo. Ihaven't found it to be miraculous, but at the same time, my rheumy has doubled my MTX (in combination with Humira), so we'll see. I have been relying heavily on and other AIP websites to get me through this. My husband has been supportive but recently has asked when I will have done enough and just accept this. I don't know when or if that will happen.

  2. Hi, Cathy. What a great post. You're so right. As we pay attention to what we eat, we must also pay attention to our diet of other intakes. And as you so clearly point out, it is us -- not the pundits, who must decide what's right for us. All of us need that "me" time to process. I don't spend a lot of time in the car, but it's a great quiet time for me to either get mentally organized for where I'm headed or to "decompress" and process before I get home.

  3. I feel like dealing with an autoimmune disease has taught me to listen to my body so much more closely than if I were completely well. Our quests for relief through food, exercise, peace of mind, etc. have definitely made us experts at what is best for us. Thanks for the reminder to not always listen to "the experts". Hope this finds you and the family well!

  4. Great post, Cathy!

    That's one of the big benefits of the heart-based stress techniques. You begin to trust and tap into the wisdom that we each hold within ourselves.

    It does this in a number of ways, including quieting the busyness of the mind, operating from the prefrontal cortex and allowing the intuitive voice a chance to be heard.

    I look forward to hearing about how your little voice of intuition guides you.