Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a kind of talk therapy (psychotherapy) that addresses this connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In CBT you learn to identify and change thinking patterns that may be distorted, beliefs that are inaccurate, and behaviors that are unhelpful. CBT is a way to help you look at your thoughts and determine when you are thinking in a rational or an irrational way. You learn to monitor, challenge, and replace your negative thoughts with more realistic ones and to recognize the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is particularly useful in depression, when your thoughts are often distorted, negative, and upsetting. If you can learn to be more aware of negative thoughts and feelings and respond to them using CBT, then you may be able to avoid a relapse or recurrence of your depression. A look through history reveals an interesting pattern. As Carl Sagan noted, in ancient times, when people thought that gods came down to earth, people saw gods. When fairies were widely accepted, people saw fairies. In an age of spiritualism, people saw spirits. When we began to think that extraterrestrials were plausible, people began seeing aliens.3 You have to ask, are things like aliens the gremlins of today? Why do people who report seeing aliens say they have a humanoid body with a large head and eyes? If an alien from another planet came to Earth, it would likely look very different from a humanoid. Just look at the diversity of life on this planet. Only a few species have two arms and two legs. Imagine the differences that would arise if life formed on an entirely different planet. Yet, we see aliens that look remarkably like ourselves. Why is that? Aliens are typically depicted as humanoid in magazines, on TV, and in the movies. When science fiction accounts in the 1920s and 30s showed small hairless beings with big heads and eyes, people started seeing such creatures.

Alien abduction accounts were rare until around 1975, when a TV show depicting an abduction aired. We don't hear much about gremlins and fairies these days. I wonder where they've gone. Abducted by aliens, perhaps? It Could Be! Do you remember the movie Animal House? At one point in the film a young freshman, nicknamed Pinto, is smoking pot for the first time with one of his professors. While under the influence, they have a deep philosophical discussion about the true nature of the universe. With the professor's urgings, Pinto says, "OK--So that means that our whole solar system could be, like, one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being?" Looking down at his own finger he then says, "That means that one tiny atom in my fingernail could be one little tiny universe?" When the professor nods in agreement, Pinto asks, "Could I buy some pot from you?" We often hear people say, "It could be." Aliens could be visiting us from other planets. We don't know for sure. The problem with this line of reasoning is that it implies that one belief is as good as another. And if that's the case, then there's no such thing as objective truth--reality is just what we believe it to be. However, as Theodore Schick and Louis Vaughn point out, if we believe that all truth is subjective, then no statement is worthy of belief or commitment because every belief is arbitrary. As a result, there can be no such thing as knowledge, because if nothing is true, there can be nothing to know (So why bother going to school?). But while many people believe that anything is possible, that claim can't be true. Some things can't be false and other things can't be true. For example, 2 + 2 = 4, and all bachelors are unmarried, are necessary truths, while 2 + 2 = 5, and all bachelors are married, are necessary falsehoods. In effect, some things are logically impossible. Other things are physically impossible. It's logically possible for a cow to jump over the moon, but it's physically impossible.

As I have said, you can't change these external events, because they have already happened. Whether they happened yesterday or thirty years ago, they are history. You can't alter the moments, un-choose the choices, or change the pivotal people. Even so, it is still a crucial first step to identify these external events that have had such a profound impact on your current self-concept. Don't despair that you cannot change what has already happened, because your real power lies in your internal factors. It is in the five areas of internal response that you will find the tools and opportunities to redefine your self-concept and your life in a way that is congruent with who and what you truly are when all the distortion is stripped away. Once you select a triggering event, you'll need to give it your complete attention and focus to determine how you responded to and internalized that event. It can be really overwhelming to try and think about your whole life at one time. It can even be overwhelming trying to think just about your personal list of defining moments, critical choices, or pivotal people all at once. But we are going to take this personal audit and analysis one step at a time. It's like the old analogy: "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is: "One bite at a time." Forget that you have an entire elephant to chow down on; that would intimidate anyone. What you do is just grab an ear and start chewing. Before you know it you've made some real progress. Same deal here: One event at a time, we are going to deconstruct your history and demystify how you have become who you are. Having isolated one event, we are going to look really closely at what happened inside you once the event occurred. How did it change your self-concept? Did it shake your faith; did it steal your confidence; was it the death of your innocence? This is where your five internal factors come into play. I'll challenge you to assess how that defining moment, for example, impacts your internal dialogue to this very day. If it was truly a defining moment, you will still be talking to yourself about it now, even as we do this work.

Your internal dialogue may be influenced indirectly, even when you are not thinking about the specific defining moment. Similarly, is your locus of control dictating where you place responsibility or blame for that event? What labels have you generated as a function of that defining moment? What tapes has this event generated or contributed to? What are the fixed beliefs that you have constructed as a result of this defining moment and how have they played into a life script that you have been living since the precise moment of the triggering event? You will be writing down or reviewing what you have written down about each of these internal processes, so that you can see what the impact has been and exactly where you must make adjustments. Fear is the antitheses of faith; it breeds hesitancy, inertia, listlessness, and anomie. You need courage to achieve your expectations. I encourage you to engage in prayer, meditation, and mindfulness. When you establish an earnest dialogue with a higher power, you are greatly fortified. Similarly, focused meditation can still the mind and reduce mental clutter, which can hamper the discipline and focus you'll need to accomplish the challenges you've set for yourself. Emotional intelligence matters more than IQ. Put simply, managing your emotions is what character is all about. Identifying and harnessing your passions, understanding your motivations, and having insight into your inner life are inextricably part of what we call emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is like a muscle, which is strengthened through exercise. Most important, cultivating emotional intelligence, particularly healthy habits of mind and a positive attitude, will help you achieve your goals. Collective expectations can affect individual expectations. More specifically, the malady of diminished expectations on a social level has the tendency to undermine individual initiative and ambition. You need to be aware that the lowering of expectations throughout society reflects a pernicious trend that can sap your drive, if you let it. In contrast, communities need business leaders, educators, and politicians who will set and insist on high expectations throughout society.

The extraordinary implications of quantum theory are only now beginning to be appreciated. The repercussions for expectation therapy and self-empowerment are profound. Experimental findings at the quantum level strongly indicate that thought patterns in your mind influence physical reality. For the first time, there is a scientific basis for believing that your mental states and expectations help shape your reality. You have a profound responsibility and opportunity to change your life for the better. You have the knowledge, tools, and insight to set and create the expectations you choose. I urge you to seize the occasion and chart the course that will make your dreams come true. Faith, courage, and persistent effort can make your highest expectations a reality. The single-line commentaries, GIFs, and emoji commonly used in group chats create an ongoing stream of external triggers, often moving us further away from traction. To hack back, schedule time in your day to catch up on group chats, just as you would for any other task in your timeboxed calendar. It's important to set colleagues' expectations by letting them know when you plan to be unavailable. You can put them at ease by assuring them that you will contribute to the conversation during an allocated time later in the day, but until then you shouldn't feel guilty for turning on the Do Not Disturb feature while doing focused work. When it comes to group chat, be selective about who's invited to the conversation. Fried advises, "Don't get everyone on the line. The smaller the chat, the better the chat." Continuing the conference-call metaphor, he states, "A conference call with three people is perfect. A call with six or seven is chaotic and woefully inefficient. Group chats are no different. Be careful inviting the whole gang when you only need a few." The key is to make sure that everyone present is able to add and extract value from being a part of the conversation. Group chat is best avoided altogether when discussing sensitive topics. Remember that the ability to directly observe another person's mood, tone, and nonverbal signals adds critical context to conversations.