They also reported decreases in perceived stress, depression, and anxiety levels. One of the most attractive traits anyone can have is a sense of humor, but some types of funny are less healthy than others. Researchers asked forty-three males and sixty-six females to complete questionnaires about their humor styles, subjective happiness, and affective styles. The results indicated that practicing aggressive or "self-defeating" humor used to belittle or tease correlated with lower levels of happiness, while positive or "self-enhancing" humor led to higher happiness levels. "Self-directed humor" also had a stronger correlation with happiness ratings than did humor directed toward others. Skip the sarcastic, aggressive, negative humor focusing on other people's weaknesses. Being able to choose what to do or what to buy is usually a good thing. But too many choices can be a bummer. Anyone who has felt overwhelmed trying to decide how to spend a day off or what to order from one of those thirty-page diner menus can appreciate that having a lot of options can sometimes feel the opposite of liberating. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And since we're so good at avoiding responsibility for our lives and problems, I've noticed that when things get really bad and something BIG needs to change, we seek external solutions like stimulants, depressants, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and even religion. We completely overlook the idea that maybe our problems are stemming from our thoughts, emotions, actions, behavior, habits, and decisions and we might have to do some WORK on ourselves, figure it out, and try to fix it, ourselves! But, we're lazy and we want someone else to fix our problems. I never discuss religion but I'm going to touch on it for a second because I have, what I think, is a good point - many of us, not all of us, only go to church and get extremely religious when things are really bad and not going our way. When things are great, we aren't really serious about religion, church, and God. But when things are bad, we run to church looking for a "quick fix" to the problems WE created and that WE should be responsible for. We shouldn't be abusing religion and using it a "quick fix" to the problems we created and should be handling ourselves. It's kind of shitty to communicate, "I created these problems in my life but I'm not going to make the effort to fix them! That would be crazy! So, I want you to fix them all for me so I can continue being lazy, unaware, and I don't have to change, think, or realize that I might be a big part of the problem." If your kids kept getting into trouble, took no personal responsibility for their actions or life, and they ONLY gave you attention when they had problems and needed you to fix those problems FOR THEM so they didn't have to make any kind of effort, would you just say, "No problem at all!

I'll fix all of your problems, pay your bills, bail you out of jail, and you don't have to worry about being a responsible adult and making good choices. You're such a perfect kid."? If you're clinically sane, your answer is probably, "Hell no! That's crazy! I would make them accountable and expect them to take full responsibility and fix their problems themselves!" There's a big difference between understanding your ability to fix the problems you created yourself and irresponsibly choosing to do nothing about your problems except ask someone else to fix them for you. Take responsibility for your decisions, actions, results, and your life. Stop crying on social media and sharing posts about how "hard" life is, stop finding people and things to blame, and stop finding reasons why you're less "lucky" than everyone else. If your life isn't what you want it to be right now, you are the cause of it. Take the blame and fix it yourself. First, make sure you know at least a few basics about the person you're meeting and then verify those details. If they are unwilling to pass on their name and phone number, then you probably shouldn't be meeting with them yet. Look them up in Google, check any stories they tell you against online references and make sure they are for real. Don't graduate this to stalking - it's pretty creepy when you know things about them that they have not yet shared - but make sure they're legit. This is doubly important if you're going on a date. As for the meeting place, make sure it's a public place where you'll both feel comfortable. A coffee shop is a safe, cliched location that most people will gladly agree to. You should also try to have a good signal for meeting up. So, how do you take everything you've learned in this book and convert it to online interactions? That's a tough one. Not only do you not have the benefit of seeing each other, you lose a lot of inflection and tone in an email.

So, if you've never actually met anyone before, things like sarcasm, jokes, and questions can go over poorly in written words. To keep from making big snafus in your messages, practice what I call careful typing. I'm sure you've seen the gibberish that many people use for writing emails to each other in modern society. It's a mess and often doesn't make any sense. I don't want to date myself too much, but it's ridiculous watching some young people attempt communication in email. Most of the disagreements you see on message boards and blogs is due to poor communication skills, not an actual ideological disagreement. So, when you write a message to someone, use complete sentences, clearly state your thoughts and make sure you're statements are well formed. Don't write a formal letter to a stranger - it will likely make them uncomfortable - but also don't write things in bits and spurts either. Another tip to being likable online is to make sure you're open without being too open. Remember how you're supposed to toss out a good amount of details about your life to people you just met to create rapport. The same goes online, but I recommend you steer clear of things like family members, where you live, or details they could use to learn more about you than you'd like. It may sound paranoid, but the risk of being manipulated or stalked online is always there - far more so than with a stranger you just met in person. Anonymity does strange things to people. Don't give them a chance to test those boundaries and things will remain safe and sound. Can you imagine how breathing might be helpful when you are trying to slow your urge to act on seemingly automatic behaviors? If you are keyed up, freaked out, or angry, could breathing calm you down just enough to help you make a less rash and emotional decision? If you are sad, could the breathing soothe you in the moment and help you make a more self-compassionate decision that benefits future you as well? If you are feeling overwhelmed or helpless, and just want to take the path of least resistance, could breathing make you just a bit more alert and cognizant of the choice you are going to make? Let's think about breathing while returning to the quintessential dilemma: to sleep or to watch one more episode of Mad Men. What might it be like to insert diaphragmatic breathing into the inevitable triggering moment?

You are in bed, one episode ends, and you don't want to go to sleep because it means that you'll just have to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. You want a little more escape. When the countdown to the next episode begins, literally hit the pause button. You recognize that this is a triggering moment, so you want to breathe before you act on your urge. Don't let the next episode start yet. Sit up in bed. If the computer or tablet is on your lap, set it on the nightstand. Breathe in, slowly, feel the belly rising. Breathe out, slowly, feel the belly falling. You have opened your eyes. You are still sitting up in bed. The truth is, you still want to watch the show--breathing didn't magically change what you want to do. But you find you can delay a few more minutes to talk out the TRAP, or even type it out on the nearby laptop. This is what it might look like: Trigger: One episode is over and I want to watch another. Emotional Response (HN, LN, HP, LP): HN What Does My Mind Say? (Thoughts): I just want the reality of tomorrow, and all that I need to do, to go away. What Changes in My Body (Physiology): Heart beating a little quicker, breathing is a little shallower. My face is scrunched and scowling. What Do I Want to Do? (Action Urge): Continue watching!

I feel myself justifying that urge. It's really not that late and I deserve to feel good, I should just be allowed to enjoy one more. Does This Emotion Have a Name That I Can Identify? Oh, it's anxiety. And I feel calmer when I think about watching another episode. One of my favorite definitions of recovery comes from author Dr. William A. Anthony, who writes, "Recovery is a deeply personal, unique process of changing one's attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills, and/or roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even with limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one's life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness."14 "Relapse" and "recurrence" are terms commonly used to describe a return of depressive symptoms. In truth, though, they are distinctly different experiences. "Relapse" is defined as a full return of depressive symptoms once remission has occurred--but before recovery has taken hold. "Recurrence" refers to another depressive episode after recovery has been attained. Depression is often a chronic condition, where upwards of 80 percent of treated individuals experience subsequent episodes. Additional statistics report that 60 percent of children and adults who've had one depressive episode are prone to relapse. Individuals with two depressive episodes are 70 percent more likely to have a third recurrence, and 90 percent of people with three depressive episodes will have a fourth episode.15 Significantly important is research showing that relapse rates are radically lower for children and adults who've reached full remission--further emphasizing the importance of treatment commitment. Just as there are risk factors for developing depression, so, too, are there risk factors for relapse and recurrence. Variables that increase risk begin with your family history. Your likelihood of relapse and/or recurrence will be higher if you have a relative with a depressive disorder. For me, genetics proved to be a strong factor for recurrence, revealing a long line of unipolar and bipolar depression in my immediate and extended family.