Skill-building groups that teach and practice interpersonal and communication skills provide participants with alternatives to "saying yes" to substances. They are similar in their approach to relapse prevention, and their provision is vital. Look for programs or services that deliver skill training and relapse prevention; ask about it--insist upon it. These are different from 12-step programs and complement a host of other recovery efforts. Having lived the life of a habitual procrastinator for quite a spell, I have long pondered the question, "How did I end up this way?" While communicating with other procrastinators via e-mail, I asked for their thoughts on this question. Here are just a few of their reasons for engaging in this debilitating habit: Wanting to avoid the dull sort of life that "responsible persons" have. By refusing to deal with a task, they feel more "in control" than when dealing with real situations, real people, and real consequences. Having a desire to rebel against bosses, parents, teachers, government agencies, or other authority figures. A lack of discipline growing up. Initiating action without prior preparation or plans, which often leads to frustration from unexpected problems, and to poor outcomes. Not having back-up plans, which can lead them to the belief that they are doomed to a life consisting only of "no-win situations." A difficulty in managing frustration. When this is the case, procrastination often feels like pressure-relief. Not having been taught coping or problem solving skills from an early age. Not having an internal rewards system in place to promote staying on-track. Without rewards, we have less incentive to forge ahead. Research looking at U.S. adolescents aged twelve to seventeen suggests that an estimated 3.1 million (12.8 percent) have had at least one major depressive episode. For females, in particular, the prevalence of major depression is even higher (19.4 percent compared to 6.4 percent for males). Of those adolescents with full-blown depression, 2.2 million of them will develop symptoms severe enough to leave them seriously impaired. This works out to 9 percent of the total population between the ages of twelve and seventeen.

Though these statistics apply to major depressive disorder alone, factoring in the prevalence rates for other mood disorders pushes the total number of people developing depressive symptoms even higher. When looking at bipolar disorder, for example, recent statistics by the NIMH indicate that 4.4 percent of all adults over the age of eighteen will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. Of these, 2.8 percent had experienced at least one bipolar episode in the past year alone. In many ways, however, these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only does major depression often go undiagnosed but many people may also develop severe symptoms that do not fit any particular diagnosis. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than three hundred million people around the world who suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States alone, organizations such as the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance estimate that depression affects twenty-three million Americans each year. That makes it the most common brain disease in the United States and one of the major contributors to long-term disability. Despite there being effective treatments for depression, less than half of all sufferers of depression will receive any form of treatment. In the United States alone, 37 percent of adults with depression fail to get any form of treatment while only 44 percent received the full range of recommended treatment (with both psychotherapy and medication). An additional 6 percent only received medication with no additional treatment. For the ambitious among us, once we reach our goal we soon formulate another to pursue. This is the hedonic treadmill. We continuously raise the bar for what we want or feel we need in order to be happy - and the hedonic treadmill spins faster with ambition. In other words, the downside to being ambitious is a constant sense of dissatisfaction with our achievements. There might be some truth in the notion that happiness is ambition minus reality. So, could this be the reason why Danes score high on happiness? Is it because they have low expectations? Some have suggested as much. One December around a decade ago, the British Medical Journal published an article called Why Danes Are Smug: Comparative Study of Life Satisfaction in the European Union'. <br /><br /><a href=''>It</a> concluded that the key factor in the high level of life satisfaction among the Danes was consistently low expectations for the year to come. <a href=''>Year after year, they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.' This conclusion has been repeated by the BBC and CNN, among others. There is only one tiny issue: the article was meant as a joke. The December issue was a Christmas edition which also featured explanations for why Rudolph has a red nose (apparently, it is due to a high density of capillaries in his nose); and the article about the happy Danes also looked at the impact of a high share of blondes living in the country, the level of beer consumption (a reviewer suggested that Danes were happy because they are drunk when they participate in the surveys), and concluded that another reason was that beating Germany 2-0 in the Euro 92 Championship football final put Denmark in such a state of euphoria that the country has not been the same since. However, just because the article was built on humour rather than data does not mean that it might not be true. Fortunately, data from Statistics Denmark can tell us whether this is true, because Statistics Denmark not only ask people how good they feel about their lives right now, they also ask how happy they imagine they will be five years from now - and Danes expect to be even happier in the future. So perhaps Danes are less ambitious when it comes to the accumulation of stuff - but I don't see any evidence that Danes have low expectations when it comes to happiness. A big contributor to having your act together is not turning baby emotions into monster emotions. On a level of 1 through 10, 1 being nothing and 10 being extreme, losing a loved one registers a 10. It's understandable. Everyone has their own grieving process but it could be said that some of us take longer than necessary and expected to get over a death because we're lacking the maturity and responsibility to pick ourselves up, accept it's a very sad part of life, and move forward. On the same scale, a 1 is getting upset because someone offended you, you dropped your piece of pizza on the floor, or you had to sit in traffic. You can't change it and it's a waste of time, energy, and emotions. Expressing your emotions on a baby level makes you weak, unstable, immature, and childish. It's not that big of a deal. Get over it. You're too old to be complaining because you're emotionally sensitive. There's a direct correlation between your mind and your home. The way you think and carry yourself flows into every part and aspect of your life. Your attention to detail is reflected in everything you own and do.

Your home makes it instantly noticeable how much you respect yourself, how much you have your act together, and how much attention you give to detail. Your home reflects your thoughts, emotions, habits, and self-discipline. It's impossible to fake. If your home is sloppy, trashy, unorganized, unsanitary, and details are overlooked, it's easy to guess you're sloppy, trashy, unorganized, unsanitary, and overlooking details in every other area of your life. If things break and you let them sit instead of fixing them, it's easy to guess you're ignoring and choosing not address other problems in your life. If your home is calm, neat, organized, squared away, clean, and the details are handled, it communicates you're a calm, neat, organized, squared away, clean, and detail-oriented person. It communicates you respect yourself and you stay on top of everything. If you're constantly losing and misplacing things and you don't know everything's exact location at all times, it communicates your mental weakness, incompetence, and absent-mindedness. Contingency management has had its detractors. It means pairing a desired behavior, such as abstinence, with a reward. Some have said, "Why pay people to be abstinent?" and "Besides, where would the money come from anyway?" But over time, evidence has been quite strong that rewarding people for staying clean and sober works. This includes not only financial rewards, but also tokens or movie tickets, vouchers, or prize drawings; even AA gives its members symbolic, inexpensive tokens for achieving milestones of sobriety. With contingency management, people with substance use problems are rewarded for clean urine, and their attendance at clinical visits improves. Negative contingencies can work as well, such as loss of privileges in a group home for people with addictions or shunning or blaming by family members. But, again and again, we know from too many psychological studies that rewards are far more enduring than punishments. And they are more humane as well. One thing about contingency management must be understood: if the incentives are discontinued, the effect diminishes over time. But then again, the effects of most treatments that are stopped for chronic conditions reduce over time. For youth, even later in their adolescence, but certainly for those below the age of fourteen or fifteen, most (but not all) families remain great influencers of their children's behaviors. The younger the child is, the more influence the family usually has, since peers soon gain hegemony in the lives of teenagers.

Parents can model responsible behaviors, including the moderate use of alcohol, build their bonds with their children through acquired and practiced communication techniques, and learn ways to set and reinforce family rules. Having family dinners regularly, and not in front of the TV, is a basic and invaluable way for families to effectively live with and respect one another. Even former president Barack Obama, for his eight years in the White House, had dinner with his wife and two daughters each evening (when possible!) at six thirty. Sometimes life can be complicated and demanding. Many people who do not habitually procrastinate have a personal mental reserve of positive experiences that has been built-up from times when their coping abilities were challenged, yet they persevered until completion of the task. These personal reserves serve to make them stronger and better prepared for future tasks. Many habitual procrastinators don't have the same sort of personal reserve because they usually have had fewer positive experiences that they can draw back upon. Often, just thinking about a task can create a feeling of almost paralyzing anxiety. This explains why so many procrastinators have a difficult time just trying to sit down to think over how they might deal with a task--for them, facing it is usually more than half the battle. To counter this anxiety, the procrastinator may try rushing into action. However, he does so without a plan--and when we act without planning, we usually get off to a bad start and have even less chance of a successful outcome. In addition, feeling stymied from the start can often become a habit unto itself. In the workplace, procrastinators often find tasks more emotionally draining than their non-procrastinating colleagues. For example, there were times when I came home emotionally exhausted from a difficult day at work and crept under the bedcovers to take a nap, only to wind up sleeping the entire night away. Although some might say, "You probably needed the rest." to me, it was not a restful slumber because I had lost that evening's free time, only to awaken and find myself facing another workday. There were also many weekends that I lost by sleeping away a Saturday or Sunday afternoon on the living room couch, despite household chores that required my attention. Before nodding off, I would tell myself that I was taking a time-out break, and there were even times when, not caring if I slept the day away, I would lightheartedly call it "taking a snooze cruise." It was a bit like taking a little escape away from the world and one's responsibilities, except, as a procrastinator, in my case it was deliberately engaging in oversleeping as a method of handling stress. It's not necessarily one of the best ways to handle stress, because it's really just another form of procrastination. When looking at adolescents alone, these numbers seem even bleaker. According to U.S.