Todd Patkin on FINDING HAPPINESS

Listen to the interview.

When You Don’t Get Gold: Why It’s So Important to Be Easier on Yourself, and Eight Ways to Get Started


Todd Patkin says that we can all learn an important lesson in dealing with disappointment from several Olympians in particular, and he offers advice on how anyone can respond positively to mistakes and failures.

“While you’ll probably never compete for a gold medal on the international stage, you will find yourself facing failure, dissatisfaction, and regret,” points out Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety. “How you choose to respond to those negative circumstances will set the tone for the way others see you, and most importantly, for your overall quality of life.”

Patkin points out that while many disappointed Olympic athletes had every reason to break down or to lash out in frustration (as some competitors did after poor performances), a large number instead chose to accept their results with class and dignity.

Patkin says, most of us don’t show ourselves that much—if any—kindness when we fail or make a mistake. Instead, we tend to beat ourselves up mercilessly, even though this reaction is unhealthy and unhelpful. Here, Patkin shares eight tips to help you learn to be easier on yourself when you’re facing one of life’s failures—all of which are inspired by many of the world’s amazing Olympians.

Get some perspective.Have you ever noticed that people have trouble putting mistakes into context? The Olympic Games are full of examples. For instance, couch potatoes around the world have been focusing on what gymnasts haven’t done correctly: “Her foot slipped off the beam right there! She messed up!” It’s a toss-up as to whether these armchair commentators will also exclaim, “How incredible! She is doing backflips on a four-inch-wide piece of wood! What an impressive, world-class athlete.” Unfortunately, though, this is representative of how our culture operates. We focus on what went wrong, no matter how small, and ignore all of the wonderful things that went well.

“It’s true; some of the U.S. female gymnasts ‘messed up,’ as the media has highlighted—but the bigger picture here is that these young women are incredible athletes,” Patkin points out. “They are all at the very top of their field, and they have numerous incredible accomplishments to be proud of. So the next timeyou mess up, try to harness the power of perspective and force yourself to put your misstep into context. For example, you might ask, ‘Did I make this mistake because I haven’t worked for this company very long?’ Or, ‘Is the one slide I flubbed up on really what people will remember from my whole presentation?’ Often, you’ll realize that what you’re upset about is a mere drop in the bucket, and that you have a lot more to take pride in.”

Put someone else in your shoes.Most people operate under a double standard they don’t even know exists: They treat others much more leniently than they do themselves. Think about it: If a good friend called you and was upset about being fired from an account at work, for instance, how would you react? You’d probably try to comfort her by reminding her of all of her other professional triumphs, and you’d also assure her that this was not the end of the world. But what if it were you being fired from that account? If you’re like many people, you’d berate yourself for being so inept, tell yourself that you were worthless, and become convinced that everything would go downhill from here.

“Why do we not treat ourselves with the same kindness and love we would a friend?” asks Patkin. “Being your own worst critic usually does more harm than good. The next time you’re disappointed in yourself, take a moment and think about how you’d react to a friend in the same situation. Then try to extend the same grace to yourself.”

Make a list of your successes. The fact is, most of us do at least one hundred things right for every one thing we do wrong. But because we tend to focus on these failures, we magnify them in our own minds and reinforce to ourselves just how “subpar” we think we are. From now on, try to “catch” yourself when you start to dwell on a mistake. Then, force yourself to name at least five things you did today that were good.

“The things on this list could be as simple as, ‘I told my wife and kids I loved them before I left for work,’ or as big as, ‘My boss said I did a great job getting everybody on the same page at the meeting today,’” Patkin explains. “The point is to get yourself out of that dangerous I-can’t-do-anything-right rut. I really hope that athletes who might have been disappointed with silver or bronze medals were able to do this for themselves, because making it to the Olympics in the first place is a mind-blowing success in my book!”

Surround yourself with cheerleaders.The words you tell yourself are important, but what you hear from other people can also make or break your attempts to handle failures in a positive manner. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with a team of personal “cheerleaders” who build you up and encourage you. (And, of course, you should make every effort to do the same thing for them!) Actually, studies show that you’ll be the average of the five people you spend the most time with in terms of your attitude and outlook.

“Gravitate toward friends who build you up instead of pointing out what you did wrong or telling you why you’re not good enough,” Patkin suggests. “I know from the Olympic coverage that this was one of the women’s gymnastics team’s greatest strengths: Both the athletes and the coaches built the whole team up. I saw no evidence of blame or how-could-yous—only support and encouragement.”

Remind yourself that you’re normal.We live in a culture that revolves around success, achievement, and making it to the next rung of the ladder. In the midst of such obsession with perfection, it may come as a shock to realize that failure, at least some of the time, is normal and inevitable! Believe it or not, we are all human, and thus fallible. It’s impossible to get everything right all of the time—even when, like Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney, you’re at the very top of your field. (And just think how many mistakes those young women undoubtedly made while working toward their current mastery of their sport!)

“Until you give yourself permission to break free of the cycle of self-blame and negativity that causes you to be stuck demanding perfection from yourself in every situation, you’ll never have a chance to be a truly relaxed, content, and happy person,” shares Patkin. “Mistakes are a fact of life, and you have about as much chance of avoiding them as you do of being able to stop breathing. Don’t let that fact depress you; instead, let it free you up to do more and dare more!”

Learn from the mistake and move on.This is easy to say but harder to do—especially when the mistake is a “biggie,” like not performing as well as you’d hoped at the Olympics. It’s natural to go through a period of sadness, disappointment, frustration, and even grief after failing to realize a goal or dream. But eventually, for the sake of your health, your outlook, and your future, you have to find a way to forgive yourself and move forward.

“Force yourself to confront the fact that nothing you do—replaying events, berating yourself, or playing the ‘what-if’ game—will change the past,” Patkin advises. “What’s done is done, and it’s out of your hands. But no matter what mistakes might lie behind you, you have the complete power to shape a more positive and productive future. Look at what went wrong, and see if you can find a way to improve your performance while avoiding the mistake next time. As I’m sure Olympic athletes are taught to do, channel your energy into shaping the future instead of lamenting the past.”

Celebrate whenever you can.As Patkin has already pointed out, many people tend to totally gloss over their triumphs—bigand small—and call attention only to their failures. But why torture yourself by acknowledging only what you do wrong? Instead, make a habit of noticing and celebrating your successes.

“Sure, go out for a nice dinner when you get a promotion—but also, allow yourself a few moments to stop and savor the fact that you cooked a delicious dinner, or that you ran further than ever before on the treadmill,” suggests Patkin. “If you look at your self-esteem and self-confidence as a bank account, this is a great way to make deposits. And the next time youdo mess up, you’ll be less likely to think you’re the most inept person on the planet.”

Fake it ’til you make it.Yes, it’s important to acknowledge and process all of your emotions. Patkin certainly isn’t suggesting that you ignore any negative feelings that bubble up after a failure or disappointment. What he does recommend is trying to react to setbacks with dignity, composure, and even optimism for the future—even if you’re tempted to lash out or vent your frustrations.

“When you choose to react to mistakes in a healthy way, you’ll speed up the healing process for yourself,” he promises. “I always remember UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s admonition that no one should be able to tell after a game whether you won or lost from your mannerisms, and I definitely think his advice was right on the money. Strive to become not only a better loser, but also a better winner. Both are characterized by humility, empathy, and the knowledge that no one is perfect.”

“Overall, I’d like to see Americans not only learn to be easier on themselves, but to change their perspectives on winning in general,” Patkin comments. “It saddens me that the lion’s share of Olympic accolades is reserved only for the gold medal winners, while the silver and bronze recipients typically receive very little coverage. Worst of all, fourth, fifth, etc. finishes are portrayed as losses. Again, let’s step back for a little perspective: That’s fourth or fifth place in the whole world—a tremendous accomplishment!

“Ultimately, for so many reasons, we all need to prioritize being easier on ourselves,” he concludes. “We’re all human, we’re all unique, and we all have so many things to be proud of. Oh, and one more thing: If you’re thinking that it’s just too difficult to change the way you think and react, and that you don’t want to put in the effort it will take to be easier on yourself, remember this:Your children will grow up to be like you. They will develop their attitudes and outlooks based on yours. So if you won’t change how you treat yourself for your own sake, do it for your kids…and for their kids after them.”

 

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Thinner this Year with Dr. Jen Sacheck

March 10, 2013 Show Details: Unconventional, Unexpected, Fun & Healthy!
Unconventional/Unexpected (and Fun) Ways to Beat Stress from Kristen Brown, author of The Happy Hour Effect
March 3, 2013 Show Details: WOW Women of Power

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank with Ellen Gustafson
February 24, 2013 Show Details:Tips, Tricks and Recipes
Naturally Pain Free with Letha Hadady

February 17, 2013 Show Details: Celebrate YOU!
February 10, 2013 Show Details: Love is in the Air
February 3, 2013 Show Details: Super Powers and Super Grains

The Willpower Instinct with Dr. Kelly McGonigal
January 27, 2013 Show Details: Food for Thought & Thoughtful Food
7 Simple Stress Busters

January 20, 2013 Show Details: Sliders, Soup, Sweets and more!
9th Annual Chicken Soup Cook-Off
DESIGN WITH INTENTION - American Accessories Company Empowers, Educates and Employs Nepalese Artisan Women

January 13, 2013 Show Details: Fuel Saving Tips for your Car, your Wardrobe and your Body
Jennifer Scott reveals lifestyle secrets and rules that guide the French
Off to DREAMLAND with David Randall

It's all about Comfort
Ann Young, certified Health and Nutrition Counselor, talks about detox and pHbalance
December 16, 2012 Show Details: MMM, it smells like the Holiday's!

Susan Albers on EATING MINDFULLY during the holiday's
December 9, 2012 Show Details: All that Glitters
December 2, 2012 Show Details: 'Tis the Season

November 18, 2012 Show Details: A Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving!
Vicki Southard talks about Beating the High Cost of Staying Beautiful
"Take two spoonfuls of sunlight and call me in the morning"

November 11, 2012 Show Details: It's a THANKFUL time of year - Thank you to our Veterans
November 4, 2012 Show Details: How to make the most of your "Time"
Rebecca Apsan talkes about "unmentionables"

“Real Housewife of NJ" Teresa Giudice talked about her new product line
Michael Terman, author of CHRONOTHERAPY, talks about resetting your Inner Clock
How to find true Happiness from Peter Fairfield

Top 6 Ways to look great for the Holidays in less than 1 hour
October 14, 2012 Show Details: Amy’s Table Explores Happiness
Dr. Steve Amoils: GET WELL & STAY WELL

Todd Patkin on FINDING HAPPINESS
Shari Goldsmith: 31 Days to Finding your Inner Sass
October 7, 2012 Show Details: Amy’s Table Embraces & Empowers Women

Daring Greatly with Dr. Brené Brown
Vickie Milazzo discussed strategies from her New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman
September 30, 2012 Show Details: Amy’s Table Welcomes Fall

Mary Hunt prepared listeners to debt-proof their kids
Amy McCready discussed how to get your Kids to listen without nagging, reminding, or yelling
Grant Petersen shared his [quirky] rules to prepare riders for every bump in the road

September 23, 2012 Show Details: Howdy Y'All! It's an All American week on Amy's Table
Leaders for Linda's Legacy Team at the Race for the Cure September 29, 2012
September 16, 2012 Details: Bonjour mes amis! It’s tres French this Week on Amy’s Table

September 9, 2012 Show details: Konnichiwa ! It's everything Asian this Week on Amy's Table
Palace Restaurant Chef Jose Salazar dished on Gourmet Sensation
August 26, 2012 show details: Back to school, back to your yard and window boxes for WOW curb appeal

August 19, 2012 Show details: From Picky Eaters and Lunch Wars to Raising an Engaging Child
Lunch Wars with Amy Kalafa
August 12, 2012 Show details: Making cheese, popsicles- and money!

August 5, 2012 Show details: Sun, Fun, Style and Raising Kids
7 Essential Coping Skills from Dr. Madeline Levine
Expert advice from Dr. Jon Mendelsohn

July 22, 2012 show details: Color, style and Food Trucks
July 8, 2012 show details: Quickies, Flips and GF Treats
June 10th show details: Parties, Pure food, Purposeful Kids and Perfect Bathing Suits

May 27th show details: Detox, Declutter, Delight
The Charisma Myth with Olivia Fox Cabane
Unjunk your Junk Food with Andrea Donsky

May 20th show details: Skinny chefs, better junk food, more money- and your psychic abilities
Infinite Quest with John Edward
Feel better fast with Essential oils

May 13th show details: Cooking Mom, Baking Mom, Busy Mom, Mom likes you Best
May 6th show details: Drinks, Detox and getting Better Each Day
Wishes Fulfilled with Dr. Wayne Dyer

April 29th show details: Wayne Dyer, Ellen Whitehurst and Emily Maynard
Feng Shui Cleaning Tips from Better Living Expert Ellen Whitehurst
April 8, 2012 show details: Slow cooking meals, long lasting husbands, the (new) richer sex and staying safe

The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have
April 1, 2012 show details: Lost and Found (Weight, Meat, Love and Fitness)
Three Diet Rules from Fitness Expert Todd Scarborough

March 25, 2012 show details: Finger Food, Flowers, Asian Splendor and Personal Safety
Personal Safety with Marcia Peot and Streetsafe
Organize your mind; Organize your life with Coach Meg

March 18, 2012 Show details: Music, Mad Men, Coaching and Confession
The Art of Confession with Paul Wilkes
Sleep tips from sleep expert Dr. James Maas

March 11, 2012 Show Details: Sleep, Space, Supper and Salary
March 4, 2012 Show Details: Fresh look at Flavors, Vegetables and Restaurants
Fresh, local produce delivered to your door with Green Bean Delivery

February 19, 2012 show details: Getting real, light, glam and inspired
The Impostor Syndrome
February 12, 2012 Show Details: Love, Money, Friendship....and Dessert!

Pink Kisses: discovering your inner bombshell
Spontaneous Happiness with Dr. Andrew Weil
February 5, 2012 Show details: Happiness, Heart, Hops and Hues

How to: clean those places where germs lurk
How to prevent wrinkles- and what to do if it's too late!
Todd Patkin’s Ten Simple Secrets for a Happier Life

January 29th Show Details: Soup, Beer and Happiness
January 15, 2012 show details: Notable obits, effective self-defense and getting rid of Mr. Wrong
Self-defense tips with Shawnie Haskell

January 8, 2012 Show Details: Daily thoughts and thanks, getting glam and royally fed
Dr. Jon Mendelsohn on refreshing your look, no matter your budget
Better Each Day: 365 Expert Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

6 Top Tips To Navigate Holiday Eating
5 Ways to Overcome the Crazy Busy Syndrome
December 4, 2011 Show Details: Great gifts from the Kitchen

Amy's Amazing Adventures: The Ozone Zipline
Top 10 Way to Stress Less
November 6, 2011 Show Details: Life, Love and Ice Cream

October 23, 2011 Show Details: The habits and careers of marvelous Moms
October 16, 2011 Show: Sweet dreams- and dreamy casseroles
The Entitlement Trap

October 9, 2011 Show: Spooky, Seasonal, Savvy and Sweet
October 2, 2011 Show: Savvy Strategies for a well-run home and family
Dr Jon Mendelsohn chats about the latest cosmetic surgery procedures and "CoolSculpting"

September 25, 2011 Show: Makeover ideas for your skin, face, wardrobe and space
September 18, 2011: Celebrating Bad Girls, Great Careers and Dynamite Dining
ABC's of Vitamins

September 11, 2011 Show: Beauty, Bounty and Boy R Dee
September 4, 2011 Show: Color, Cooking for a Crowd, Cheap Eats and Classrooms
Raising Extraordinary Kids

Raising Philanthropic Kids
August 28th Show: Canning, Caring and Cocktails
August 7th 2011 Show Details: Keeping the Peace, the Kids and Sleep

Fueling the Teen Machine with Ellen Shanley
What's Eating your Child with Kelly Dorfman
July 31st Show: Feng Shui, Fish, and Good Things in Town

Good things are going around with Lisa Desatnik
World without Fish
7 Steps to Clearing out the Clutter

The Veganist, Kathy Freston
Back to School: Make it the best year yet!
July 24th Show: Drinks, Dogs and Dresses

Pet Adoption tips from Harold Dates and the Cincinnati SPCA
July 10th, 2011 Show: Confidence, Love & Vegetables
July 3, 2011 Show Details: Danger, Daring, Defining- and Dinner!

June 26th show details: cooking, caring -and looking cute at the beach
Summertime Safety Tips
Eating Clean with Tosca Reno

Handy Seafood Wallet Card
Molly Morgan's Skinny Girl Rules
This is not the story you think it is: A season of unlikely happiness

April 3, 2011 Show Details
More of this, less of that
Cut food consumption by 20% with small plates

Feed Your Face
Boost your Metabolism
The Art of Happiness

Super Foods for Super Skin
Tips from the happiest cultures in the world
Stress reducer: press the clear button

Sleep tips from Dr. Michael Roizen
Food Mood Connection
Tips for feeding kids

Romance Rehab
Food Label 101: Nutrition Facts
Take a Happiness Quiz

Take this personality quiz to discover your dieting style
The Hard Times Happiness Revival
Take time for yourself- get a little spinach and sleep!

An easy way to lose 10 pounds this year
Best juices to start your day
10 Tips for a healthier you

Soy Savvy
30 days to a happier life
How (and why!) to get Great Sleep

The Power of Meditation
10 Tips for Enjoying a Snow Day
Best Bedtime Snacks

How to Think Better
Flat Abs Diet
30 Things Every Woman Should Have by 30

Wills, Living Wills & Health Care Power of Attorney
365 Thank Yous
Bob Greene
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