opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve." He continues on to further list his preferences and opinions. Now we have a deeper idea of who the character is, what he values. Using that as an example, and with input from my friends, I made a list of my own preferences, personal qualities, and values, which we then discussed in session. That list eventually grew and became my responses to the Personal Preferences exercise on page 5nce you have made your list, do the things you like, or used to like, to do. Consciously choose more of your preferences that are "positive" and less of those that are "negative." Work to further develop your strengths and skills. ased on your strengths, beliefs, and preferences, put together a brief statement about yourself. This is what you would say to yourself about yourself, your personal narrative. It is not for anyone else to hear right now. Describe who you are, your strengths, and your preferences. "I am a person who _____" is a good place to start. Let's look more at how dependent your script is on fixed beliefs. Fixed beliefs describe the "action." They provide you with a framework for understanding the events in your life and they influence your own reactions to those events. Fixed beliefs provide you with the words you say. Just as your internal dialogue supplies you with your "lines," the fixed belief is the censor of those lines, making sure you do not get too far afield. Fixed beliefs tell you how things are going to turn out. They shape your expectations about your outcomes. They anesthetize your fear of the unknown by pushing you in the direction of something know-able and familiar, even if not fulfilling. When you start to feel offtrack or out of control, your fixed beliefs provide a refuge. Like a panicky actor grabbing for his script, you go back to your fixed belief. It tells you what to say and do and you instantly feel comforted.

Equilibrium is restored. Fixed beliefs influence the "casting" of your life: They determine your choice of who will and will not get a part in your life. They influence setting: the places and situations in which your life will unfold. And they even have a say about costumes and masks: the physical appearance, clothing, and style you choose to present to the world. Here's the key thing for you to understand about fixed beliefs: When you're at the mercy of a fixed belief--in other words, when you're living from a script-- you will resist any change to that script. When events go counter to your fixed beliefs, even if you recognize that you've never been happier or more peaceful, a sense of destiny intrudes. You get a queasy feeling, an apprehension that things just aren't right somehow. Your internal dialogue becomes something like, Oh my gosh! I'm going to be struck down any minute. This is not my destiny. This is not my role. What happens is that you cannot be happy being happy. You will be miserable if your script is to be miserable, because that is your self-ordained destiny. You can be miserable even if you start to be happy, because "happiness" was not part of your script. Happiness belongs to some other character in the drama, not you. So instead of enjoying the feelings, you fear that something is wrong or that it is only the calm before the storm, since you know the script and happiness is just not part of it. It could begin with, "Oh, that's John the troublemaker," which quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Reputations are quickly made and slowly changed. Typically, the only way to break out of that is either to leave the environment or wait until the person can start afresh in college. I'm sure you've heard stories of people who did not do well in grade school but did well in college and beyond; I'm a case in point.

I grew up in a small town, and I was perceived as an outsider. I reacted accordingly when people looked at my family and me as different, as outsiders toward whom they were not very friendly. From that point on, I started acting out in school, which I believe was a reaction to the expectation from the community that we were outcasts. The community's perception was that I was unlikeable and didn't fit in. Consequently, I earned the troublemaker title by meeting their expectations. It is important to be aware of things like this when you are dealing with young people. You must keep an open mind and treat them with understanding. In other words, you need to treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself. However, be prepared to challenge unfair expectations that others have of you. The other part of the perception and expectation connection alludes back to the boy in Texas who gave his teacher a verbal lashing. His mom was a teacher, and my hypothesis is that she probably taught him well at home, which heightened his expectations for teachers in general. When his teacher wasn't meeting his raised expectations for education, he verbalized it to her in no uncertain terms. Perception and expectations work both ways. Teachers have perceptions of their students, and their expectations start to meet those perceptions. Similarly, students start to live up (or down) to the community's expectations. It's important to get the two in harmony with each other. A lot of lives are impacted when people get saddled with unfair perceptions that result in diminished expectations; a lot of talent is squandered, and skill sets that people can use later in life aren't being developed and utilized. Does this sound familiar? Many of us have experienced just that kind of morning. The source of the distraction during these moments, however, isn't an internal trigger.

The ubiquity of external triggers, like notifications, pings, dings, alarms, and even other people, makes them hard to ignore. It's time for us to hack back. In tech speak, "to hack" means "to gain unauthorized access to data in a system or computer." Similarly, our tech devices can gain unauthorized access to our brains by prompting us to distraction. Facebook's first president, Sean Parker, admitted as much when he described how the social network was designed to manipulate our behavior. "It's a social-validation feedback loop," he said. "Exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." To start hacking back, we first need to understand how tech companies use external triggers to such great effect. What exactly is the "vulnerability in human psychology" Parker described that makes us susceptible to the external triggers that so often lead to distraction? Motivation is "the energy for action," according to Edward Deci, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. When we're highly motivated, we have a strong desire, and the requisite energy, to take an action, and when we're not motivated, we lack the energy to perform a task. Meanwhile, in Fogg's formula, ability relates to facility of action. Quite simply, the harder something is to do, the less likely people are to do it. Conversely, the easier something is to do, the more likely we are to do it. When people have sufficient motivation and ability, they're primed for certain behavior. However, without the critical third component, the behavior will not occur. A trigger to tell us what to do next is always required. We discussed internal triggers in a previous section, but when it comes to the products we use every day and the interruptions that lead to distraction, external triggers--stimuli in our environment that prompt us to act--play a big role. Treating your depression and bipolar disorder is ideally a collaborative effort between you and your doctor(s) that often includes both medication and talk therapy, also called psychotherapy. Most people seek treatment to feel better and to function better. Treatment can also help you learn new skills, understand and manage your emotions, and deal with difficulties in your relationships. Most people with depression or bipolar disorder are treated in an outpatient (office) setting.

Usually, a psychiatrist is the doctor who prescribes medication and works with you to create an overall treatment plan. In some cases, an internist or a family doctor prescribes the medication. Depression is most often treated with an antidepressant. Bipolar disorder may be treated with mood-stabilizing medications, such as lithium or others. It may take 6 to 8 weeks after starting a medication for you to begin to see improvement. You may have to try several different ones before finding the most effective medication or combination of medications for you. It is essential to stay on the medication once your symptoms have started to improve. Stopping it too soon puts you at risk for recurrence (return) of your symptoms. This does not mean that you are dependent on the drug. Unfortunately, research has shown that non-adherence (not sticking) with antidepressant medication is a common problem, with only half of patients continuing an adequate dose of therapy in the short term. Those patients are at risk for not getting better or for having their symptoms return. This is why it is important to continue to see your physician, preferably a psychiatric specialist, on a regular basis until your symptoms clear. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) is a significant treatment for mood disorders, and alone or combined with medication, it has been effective in preventing further episodes of depression. It is a type of guided therapeutic conversation that focuses on your psychological and emotional problems, distorted thinking, and troublesome behaviors. The mental health professional who specializes in talk therapy is usually a clinical psychologist, who will work with you to create a psychotherapy treatment plan. The success of psychotherapy depends on building a trusting relationship with a therapist who is a good fit for you. Psychotherapy takes time and effort to see results. It is not a passive treatment--you need to do a lot of hard work to gain from it. Sometimes you benefit from the work you do during appointments (individual or group therapy). Often the benefits come from work you do during the rest of the week, when you have the opportunity to apply to your daily life what you have learned in your sessions.