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Rethink New Year’s Resolutions

I really love this article by Dr. Anna Settle. Such a great perspective and very informative.
— Dr. Dale


At the outset of each year, we vow to be more intentional about making better choices for ourselves. However, at the close of January, the novelty typically wears off and people tend to place much less emphasis on achieving their goals than they do for the first month of the year.

Why do our goals seem to fade so quickly? Often, people make resolutions to lose a certain number of pounds, fit into a certain size, or earn a specific salary. These goals, while made with the best of intentions, are not the most psychologically savvy means of achieving long-term self-satisfaction.

The most impactful part of goal setting and achievement is the time and process that is implemented in order to reach the goal itself. The process of creating a method by which you will reach a goal, and then actually sticking to that journey, is the most psychologically sound method for making a long-lasting, self-satisfying change. So, while losing 10 pounds may be a relatively realistic goal, simply subtracting those pounds from your total weight will not lead to the meaningful outcome that you desire.

Typically, when people vow to lose weight, what their psyche is actually saying is that that they are unhappy as-is. Ten pounds will not cure unhappiness. Completing a marathon will not change how you fundamentally feel about yourself. It is the process by which these goals are achieved that actually contributes to increased self-esteem and well-being. Thus, the lifestyle change that is made when working to be healthier, and the camaraderie and teamwork that results from training for a race are what actually improve self-esteem and increase happiness.

As we strive to keep our resolutions in place for the entirety of the year, here are some tips for increasing self-esteem by creating meaningful, reachable goals that will render long-term happiness and self-satisfaction.

1. Don’t quantify your goals. Setting a relatively arbitrary number based on what you think is “successful” is going to leave you with short-lived happiness. 1) Losing 10 pounds, 2) closing five business deals, and 3) going to the gym three times per week — the successful completion of these goals is focused simply on the outcome. The more psychologically savvy way of stating these goals would be: 1) to eat more healthily as a means of feeling physically better 2) modifying your business strategy so as to make you a more influential consultant, 3) carving time out in your schedule for exercising in order to increase energy level and improve mood throughout the week. These goals are similar, yet the latter ones focus on the process rather than the outcome.

2. Don’t set goals in absolutes. For example, if your goal is to give up sugar yet you decide to eat cake at a party, then you have, by definition, failed to meet your goal. There are a few habits that are harmful even in small doses but, for the most part, indulging occasionally is not going to be detrimental. In fact, from a psychological perspective, if we allow ourselves to have the cake periodically, we are going to place less value on having it regularly. However, if we formulate a goal of absolutely no dessert eating, then we place more value on the “forbidden” behavior and crave it to a higher degree. Ultimately, the goal is not to give up sugar, the goal is to focus on including more nutritious foods in your diet in order to feel better and improve your health.

3. Make sure that your goals are your goals. So often, we set standards for ourselves based on what society tells us is important. Social media fuels the desire to keep up with others’ expensive vacations, airbrushed waistlines and trendy purchases. When formulating goals, it is imperative to spend time assessing the goal, the process and the outcome. Ask yourself, does this goal align with my values? Will this goal contribute to long-term happiness? Will the time and effort I put into this goal be a meaningful way to spend my life? Asking these questions on a larger scale may help with introspection and creating goals that are a reflection of how you want to spend your time and energy.

Ultimately, goals are tools for improving. They are not tests, nor are they pass/fail. Goals should be positive, encouraging, helpful methods of guiding us along a path that coincides with our values and mission. So, if we are able to use this framework to establish some goals for the upcoming year, at the very least, we will stay on track and be mindful of how we are choosing to spend our time. That, in and of itself, will contribute to being more psychologically healthy and content.


Dr. Anna Settle is a psychologist and relationship expert who has a private practice located on Music Row in Nashville. Visit drannasettle.com and follow her on Twitter @drannasettle and Facebook.com/DrAnnaSettle.

Wait. Everyone Has Hemorrhoids? (Yep, Even You)

This is great!! -- Dr. Dale


Everyone Has Hemorrhoids (Yes, Even You)


Scott - TodayIFoundOut.com

Much like bathroom-humor at the dinner table, hemorrhoids can be a taboo subject. The truth is, everyone has them.

Their job is to protect your anal sphincter muscles (the ones that open and close your anus) and to help keep your anus closed when you have moments of increased abdominal pressure, like when you're coughing. They become a problem for us when they become inflamed. Once this happens they're known as piles. Popular culture has led to "hemorrhoids" and "piles" to be interchangeable in common vernacular. By the age of 50, about half of the US population will have dealt with these inflamed itchy protrusions from your anus. Because most people with piles get curious about why their butt itches, let's take a closer look at what they are, what causes them to become inflamed, and how we can prevent that from happening.

Your anus is controlled by one of the many sphincter muscles within the body. Sphincters are muscles that form like a doughnut around the many openings within the body, like the entrance and exit of your stomach. Those would be the lower esophageal sphincter and pylori sphincter respectively. When sphincters relax, they allow the entrance or release of liquids and solids. Normally sphincters are constricted which keeps those liquids and solids from leaving their respective positions within the body. No one likes the acid from your stomach coming back up and making your chest feel like it's on fire!

As mentioned before, your anal sphincter is cushioned by hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids themselves are made up of what are known as modified squamous epithelium. These highly vascular cushions reside along the anal canal in three main areas- the left, right and back of the canal. They are made up of elastic connective tissue and smooth muscles. Many of them do not contain muscular walls like arteries and veins do. Because of this, they are technically known as sinusoids (a small blood vessel like a capillary) and can swell up due to blood not being able to leave.

When you're relaxed, they provide about 15-20% of the pressure keeping your anal canal closed. When you have an increase in abdominal pressure, like when sneezing, the blood going back to your heart through your inferior vena cava is reduced. This causes these vascular cushions to swell up with blood pushing on your sphincter, and thus, help prevent the infamous anal-leakage. It's also thought that hemorrhoids are responsible for helping us determine the exact content of what's coming out, like gas versus a solid bowel movement.

When your hemorrhoids begin to swell up chronically, they begin to cause problems. This is when they become known as piles. Once they are piles, they can cause symptoms like hard lumps that can be painful and itchy, the feeling like you still have to go to the bathroom after you've already gone, and mucous discharge or bright red blood while defecating.

Anything that causes an increase in your abdominal pressure can cause your hemorrhoids to become chronically inflamed. Thus, there risk factors for piles- things like being pregnant, chronic constipation, lifting heavy weights, straining when passing stool, being obese, and increasing age. Some studies have even suggested the tendency to develop piles is inherited.

You have two types of piles, internal and external. A line known as the dentate line is what differentiates them. Located below the dentate line is external piles. These are covered by a type of skin called Anoderm that contain nerve fibers, specifically fibers connected to the pudendal nerve. The cause of the itchy pain is revealed!

Internal hemorrhoids are broken down in to 4 classifications. 1st degree protrude only into the anal canal. 2nd degree protrude outside the canal but go back in spontaneously. 3rd degree require you to push them back in manually, and 4th degree don't go back in to your canal no matter what you do.

The treatment for your piles depends on severity. If only minor, your doctor may choose to simply treat the symptoms, administering things like corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, laxatives if constipated, pain medication and anti-itch creams, as well as advising you to attempt not to strain while on the toilet, and to use simple pads to help with irritation.

If your pile is more cumbersome, your doctor can choose to remove or reduce the pile. They can do this in a variety of ways. Banding involves placing an elastic band around the base, cutting off blood-flow to the pile. After a few days, it will die and simply fall off. They can inject medications into the pile causing it to shrink, known as sclerotherapy. Surgery is also an option. They can remove the pile (hemorrhoidectomy), or staple shut the blood-flow to the pile itself.

In the end (pun intended) we all have hemorrhoids. Scratch your bums with pride knowing that 50% of us will have theirs inflame by the time we're 50. Let's just hope it's only a minor inflammation, because no one wants a Doctor cutting anything off down there!