Posts by Joel Almeida

Joel Almeida PhD mentors busy doctors and other professionals to protect the one thing that makes all of life better: their brain. His science-based Brain Care guide reveals 10 one-minute practices for better brain health at any age, with more peace and joy now and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s. Now you, too, can get the guide (free today).

How Failure Holds the Key to a Meaningful, Successful Life

“Perfectionism doesn’t believe in practice shots.” ~Julia Cameron

Within each of us lurks a perfectionist. And perfectionists set themselves up for a lot of pain in life.

How so? I’ll come to that.

First let me describe how our first child took her first step. She was less than ten months old. A very bright girl, who wanted nothing less than my approval at all times.

On one occasion, a few months previous to that, she was crawling on the carpet and picked up some small thing. As she started to put it in her mouth, I called out loudly …

What My Dog Taught Me About Self-Acceptance

“Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ~Lao Tzu

We all have recorded messages playing in our heads, from long ago.

Listen to parents talking to young children. Often the message is less than approving.

“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

“Go wash your face right now.”

“If you keep acting like that nobody will like you.”

“Look at Cindy, how well she’s doing. If you worked harder you could do as well as her.”

Those examples are kind compared to what many people will have heard growing up.

Many of these messages enter our brains …

How Forgiving Yourself and Others Changes Your Brain

“Be quick to forgive, because we’re all walking wounded.” ~Anonymous

People often behave in ways that we find irritating, annoying, or worse. This can happen especially with people close to us.

They can speak with little consideration for the impact of their words. They can criticize us and pounce on our mistakes. Sometimes they do unfair things that seriously disadvantage or damage us. Or they let us down when we’re counting on them.

All these behaviors can lead to us feeling wounded. The scars can persist for years or even decades. The closer the offenders are to us, the greater …

Why Trying to Feel Good Can Make You Feel Bad

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” ~Paulo Coelho

We’re bombarded by images of people living apparently perfect lives. They suffer no bereavements or breakups or losses or failures. They look perfect, make perfect choices, and act perfect.

Everyone seems to love them as they sail from success to success, with zero misfortunes, mistakes, or regrets.

So, it’s easy to believe that we, too, need to be perfect.

I had a simple definition of success when I was younger. It was whatever made others admire, or at least accept me.…

How to Tame Your Inner Critic: A Simple Habit to Rewire Your Brain

“I acknowledge my own worth. My confidence is growing.” ~Unknown

Sometimes I feel like a spider whose web is repeatedly torn down. I plan something and start taking action. Then life happens, and setbacks threaten to sap my energy and enthusiasm.

Whenever I take on too much, I can feel as if I’m juggling a million balls. And doing it badly.

You’ve probably seen T-shirts saying, “Things are a bit crazy around here.” That could easily describe me when I allow myself to become overloaded.

It’s easy to feel stressed and to slip into harsh self-criticism. Especially when I hold …

12 Powerful Gratitude Practices That Will Make You a Lot Happier

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne

Gratitude didn’t always come naturally to me. If there had been a championship for complaining, for a long time, I would have been a serious contender.

For years I felt entitled to everything, including the kindness of others. This didn’t make me very happy, since it was always easy to find something or someone to complain about. The more critical I grew, the less appealing life seemed and the worse I got on with others.

The …

4 Simple Sentences That Can Prevent Arguments and Resentment

“There are two sides to every argument, until you take one.” ~Unknown

The phone rang. My partner and our daughter were away hiking and camping. I’d wanted to go with them, but my partner had discouraged me.

My partner had a last-minute change of heart, but I’d remained firm. They hadn’t welcomed me, I said, so they could do without me.

Now, after a day of hiking, our daughter phoned me. They wanted me to join them for dinner and then join them for the second day of the hike.

How do you deal with feelings of disappointment, frustration, or

30 Trillion Reasons to Be Grateful: An Ode to the Awesome Human Body

“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?” ~Michelangelo

“Stop hunching! Stand up straight!” This is what I heard as a young child.

A running commentary on my appearance continued throughout my childhood. It was well intended, but not entirely helpful.

I grew self-conscious. If you’ve ever decided you’re too tall or too short or too fat or too thin, or that some parts of your body look unsatisfactory, you’ll understand.

Then I went …

10 Powerful Tips for Building a Deep, Lasting Love

“We are a work in progress with a lifetime contract.” ~Phyllis Koss

The priest at our wedding advised us, “It’s not enough to say, ‘I want to marry you’ just today. You’ve got to be able to say that every day.”

Problems and challenges in life can be like the wind, which blows unpredictably. You can’t control the wind, but you can learn to set your sails and to make repairs.

We’ve now been married for thirty years. Life, with all its ups and downs, has taught us a few lessons about building a lasting romance.

Here are ten tips …

5 Ways to Show Your Love to Others (and Yourself)

“Love isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” ~Steven Hayes

Things go wrong in life. Distress and confusion can take root, sometimes leading to harsh self-criticism, depression, or anxiety.

We sense that love heals, and it does.

I once visited an orphanage for abandoned infants, and every toddler who I carried clung tightly to me. I can still feel their little arms clasping me desperately.

We crave love as we crave oxygen.

But what is love?

Is it something you wait for?

What if love is more than a feeling?

What if your choices and actions can bring the spirit …

How to Deal with Depression and Anxiety: 10 Lessons from a Lake

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” ~Viktor Frankl

Low moods can roll in like a numbing wave, washing out the pleasure from life.

If you’ve experienced this, you’re not alone. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of people in the US eventually experience some depressive symptoms, and many are anxious. I’ve been there before.

Early in my medical career, I made some research findings that contradicted the then-current views. My boss was not an expert in that area, so he simply …

7 Steps to Create More Love and Happiness in the Present Moment

“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” ~Abraham Maslow

It was 4:00am, but I was wide awake. I wanted to be a great achiever, a great partner, and a great parent. Instead, I had turned into an irritable insomniac who no longer knew how to relax.

I was trying to do everything perfectly and be everything to everyone. Demands kept piling up. This made it tough to focus on the present moment.

A wandering mind is less happy than a mind focused on what it is doing, according to scientific research. …

28 Ways We Sabotage Our Happiness (And How to Stop)

“The simplest things in life are the most extraordinary.” ~Paul Coelho

Life can be frustrating. Things don’t always go according to plan.

People let you down, your loved ones seem insufficiently appreciative, the future seems uncertain, demands pile up, and stress invades your life.

You start to beat yourself up over mistakes. You might even start to question if you are worthy of love. Life loses its shine.

You’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people feel this way. But pause for a little while to consider this story.

A personable young man approached me at a gathering and …

How to Live a Fulfilling Life: 10 Powerful Lessons from Loss

“Make ‘Let go of control’ your mantra today.” ~Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges #177

When the phone call came I was thousands of miles from home. My father was suddenly ill, admitted to the hospital. I was a medical doctor by then, and I felt a foreboding.

My mind went back to my childhood.

Imagine being a little child in a dark room. Every small noise evokes images of vicious monsters lurking in the night. They draw nearer.

You cry out, “Daddy!” And cry out once more. Then your hero comes to the rescue.

Your father shuffles in …

7 Ways to Make Pain Work for You

“Grief can be the garden of compassion.” ~Rumi

Have you ever had lower back pain? I once wrenched my back and walked at snail’s pace for weeks, crippled by pain. Lower back pain troubled me for years, until I found an exercise that reliably switches off the pain.

Have you ever lost a loved one? The anguish can seem unbearable.

Abolishing pain might seem a good idea, but please pause to consider this story.

I was once the doctor and scientist on a health “mission” with a major international organization. Our team included a vivacious and intelligent young lady …

A Simple Way to Light Up Your Life with Meaning, Love, and Joy

“Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.” ~Viktor Frankl

Picture this: it was 3am but I couldn’t fall asleep. I had little to complain about, except a feeling that life seemed to be passing me by.

My father had died abruptly some years earlier, my mother had come through a major operation, our children were growing increasingly independent, and our marriage was strong.

Work was admittedly a bit stressful, and colleagues were less helpful than they might have been. But I ate a healthy diet, exercised, maintained a reasonable work-life balance, and did …