Dr. John Norcross

Dr. John Norcross (@JohnCNorcross) is a board-certified clinical psychologist, and internationally recognized expert on behavior change and New Year’s resolutions.

He is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton, Clinical Professor at The Commonwealth Medical College, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

He is the recipient of a number of awards including Pennsylvania Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation, Distinguished Contributions to Education & Training Award from the American Psychological Association, and election to the National Academies of Practice.

John, has authored over 400 publications and edited or co-written 22 professional books in the areas of psychotherapy, clinical psychology, and self-change including “Changing for Good“, “Self-Help That Works“, and “Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions“.

In today’s episode, with 2019 looming, we explore the science of personal change and the most effective ways to plan, commence and – most importantly – stick to(!) your news years resolutions.

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Related Links – John’s website.

Check out some of John’s free self-assessment and self-change exercises.

The New Year’s Resolution Solution – A great article summarizing John’s advice when it comes to planning, starting, and sticking to new years resolutions.

Book Recommendations


Image courtesy: Marco Verch

Luis Trigo

Luis Trigo (@savageresolve) is a personal trainer, health coach and fitness ambassador.

After struggling with his weight since childhood and being ostracized throughout high school, at the age of 25, spurred on by compounding health problems and the breakdown of his relationship, he set out on an epic physical and mental transformation.

From a starting weight of 400lbs and 65% bodyfat, in the space of 3.5 years he shed 245lbs, down to 155lbs. After posting the results of his transformation on Instagram, Luis has built up following of almost 40,000 people, and now dedicates his time to coaching clients and producing fitness related content online.

In today’s episode we explore Luis experiences dealing with obesity from childhood, how being overweight affected his social life in high school, and how a health crisis and relationship breakdown in his mid-20’s inspired him to finally turn things around.

Luis also shares some basic diet and exercise principles for anyone getting started on their own fitness journey, how to cultivate patience and self-compassion, and the biggest determining factor in any fitness endeavour, how to master consistency.

Related Links

Luis on Instagram @savageresolve

Luis on Facebook

Athlean-X – YouTube Channel

Thomas Deleur – YouTube Channel

Book Recommendations


Image courtesy: Luis Trigo

Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders (@caitflanders) is former binge consumer turned mindful consumer.

Between 2011-2016 she was the writer the behind the popular personal finance blog “Blonde on a Budget”, where she documented her journey out of $28,000 worth of personal debt.

She is currently the author of where she has expanded her interests into issues as diverse as minimalism, travel, health, social media.

Her latest project, “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store“,  is a self-help memoir that documents her life for the first twelve months of a two-year shopping ban and decluttering experiment, and also forms the basis of today’s conversation.

In today’s episode we discuss the links between consumerism and things like addiction and self-esteem, the challenges and benefits of decluttering your life, and also offers some tips and ideas on how to spend both your money, and your time, more wisely.

Related Links – Minimalism, travel, health and social media blog

Cait on Instagram

Cait on Twitter

The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary

Book Recommendations


Image courtesy: Cait Flanders


Glenn Schiraldi, PhD

Dr. Glenn Schiraldi is a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam-era veteran, and founder of Resilience Training International.

Glenn has served on the stress management faculties at The Pentagon, The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, and The University of Maryland, where he received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

Glenn is also author of a number of books including “The Self-Esteem Workbook“, “The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook“, and the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion “The Resilience Workbook: Essential Skills to Recover from Stress, Trauma, and Adversity“.

In today’s episode we discuss what precisely resilience is and what it means to be resilient, how resilience can act as a barrier that protects us from things like stress, depression and anxiety, and some tips on how you can cultivate and building resilience in yourself.


The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling, but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself. While he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect towards others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.

— John M. Schofield


Related Links

Resilience Training International – Glenn’s website

How Resilient Are You? – Take Glenn’s Resilience Checkup

Book Recommendations


Image courtesy: Gabriela Fab


Gary Wilson

Gary Wilson (@YourBrainOnPorn) is a retired anatomy and physiology teacher, public speaker and writer.

Gary is the author of “Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction“, and the co-founder, alongside his wife Marnia, of, a secular, science-based web site providing support and information for people wanting to recover from mental, physical, and social problems related to the consumption of porn.

In today’s episode we explore the neuroscience of porn addiction, the role of dopamine in driving porn use, why emotions such as shock and disgust make pornography not less, but more appealing, and the links between porn usage and erectile dysfunction.

We also discuss links between porn addiction and mental health issues such as depression and social anxiety, how chronic masturbation could be responsible for feelings of fatigue and brain fog, why increasing number of men are claiming to have no interest in sex with real women, how you can tell if you’re addicted to porn, and if so, what you can do to get yourself out of it.


Related Links

Your Brain on Porn – Gary’s website

Reboot Nation – Support forum helping people recover from artificial sexual stimulation

NoFap – Reddit Forum

PornFree – Reddit Forum

Book Recommendations


Image courtesy: Surian Soosay


Reading time: 13 mins

If there’s one thing depression and anxiety makes you good at, it’s telling porkie pies. Whether it’s a little white lie, such as blaming your trembling hands on a double espresso, or something more elaborate like staging happy-go-lucky selfies for Instagram when in reality you feel like you’re dying inside, we’re all guilty of it.

In a society where mental illness is seen as a contagious disease, lies are the vaccines that inoculate those of us who are suffering from being ostracized like emotional lepers.

My go-to lie is to blame every low or anxious mood on nausea. It’s the perfect affliction to fake because they explain away any kind of agitation without inviting further inquiry, and its impossible to disprove.

Been invited to a social event? Can’t. Feeling a bit ropey today. Maybe next time. Woken up feeling shit and depressed? Need to stay in bed, must’ve eaten something dodgy. About to have a panic attack in public? Sorry, I’m gonna have to leave, I feel a bit sick.

So long as you’ve confided in at least one or two close family or friends, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing your cards close to your chest. Not everyone needs to know your business.

But there’s another kind of lie that I was guilty of telling in the early days of my battles with depression and anxiety, and one that isn’t quite so innocuous. It’s a lie I see told week in week out by many of the people at the mental health support group I run, and I suspect you might have told it once or twice yourself.

It’s nothing too elaborate. In fact it generally consists of just six words. But what’s interesting about this particular lie is that it’s not even necessarily intended to deceive. Because when the person uttering it does so, they themselves believe it to be true. What they’re doing, in fact, is lying to themselves first and foremost, and to everyone else as mere side effect. And it goes a little something like this:

“I tried that. It didn’t work.”

In the early days of my battles with anxiety and depression, having never experienced anything like it before, my knowledge and understanding of what was happening to me was elementary at best. I had no idea about the possible underlying causes of why I felt the way I did. All I knew was that I wanted to fix it. And quick.

But in my rush to find answers, my haphazard approach to research was both broad and shallow. Whether it was meditation, exercise, CBT, you name it. I wasn’t interested in the finer details, the science, or the research behind any of them. Just gimme the fucking instructions, for Christ’s sake. Just tell me what to do and let me get on with it.

Cardio three times a week? Fine. Twenty minutes of meditation every day? Cool. Cut all processed foods from my diet. Let’s do this. But no matter what I tried, and I tried pretty much everything, nothing ever seemed to work for me.

And it appears I’m not the only one. In the two years I’ve been running my support group, according to all the feedback I’ve received from people about their own experiences with various self-help techniques, I’d estimate the success rate of the big three depression and anxiety antidotes – exercise, meditation, CBT – to be around 5%. If that.

What’s interesting about this observation for me is that it stands in stark contrast to the results of clinical trials, which in the case of depression for instance, demonstrate a success rate of about 60% for exercise [1], 58% for CBT [2], and 52% for meditation [3].

So, what exactly is causing this discrepancy? The answer, I believe, is self-deception.

More often than not, in reviewing our failed attempts to remedy our own mental health issues, when we say “I tried that”, what we really mean is, “I tried that a couple of times”. And when we say “It didn’t work”, what we really mean is “It didn’t work quickly enough”, or we just didn’t enjoy it, or we just weren’t disciplined enough.

While we may indeed be guilty of expecting too much too soon, or just too much of an easy ride, this isn’t immediately obvious, because in many other pursuits, fast results and having fun aren’t entirely unreasonable expectations to have. Think about it.

At the commencement of most new learning experiences, progress is experienced rather quickly. For instance you can quite literally attend your first guitar lesson having never once picked up a guitar in your entire life and leave an hour later having memorised three chords, and as a result are now able to strum along to dozens of different pop songs.

Same with learning a new language, or even driving a car. You can feel the results almost immediately. This makes it fun and only serves to fan the flames of your enthusiasm to continue learning. It is in fact easier and more fruitful in the early stages, and only becomes harder and more nuanced the further along you progress.

When engaging in techniques to alter our brain chemistry or the content of our cognitive processes, this supercharged learning curve is turned on its head. Results are often much slower to present, sometimes even nonexistent in the early stages, and then still very subtle when they finally do begin to emerge.

It’s only in the later stages of engaging in such activities that the results begin to accumulate to any significant degree. Therefore its very easy, and thus very common, for people to become disheartened and subsequently disengage in the early stages of remedial mental health pursuits.

This impatience, though understandable, is in truth, unjustified, and more often than not, I believe, fueled by an unconscious dismissal of the terms and conditions laid out by the program or technique we’re attempting to engage in.

This was certainly the case with me back when I was claiming that things like diet, exercise and meditation weren’t having any effect. The reason they weren’t having any effect is because I was attempting, through a paradoxical combination of haste and laziness, to employ the techniques in isolation of the parameters within which they were designed to be effective.

In other words, I was ignoring say, the 90 day aspect of the diet program, or the daily aspect of the meditation course, or just the fact that nowhere in any of the literature did it say that doing cardio was going to be easy, let alone enjoyable.

Truth be told, I don’t know of a single quick fix approach to any mental health issue that is taken seriously by the scientific community. Most of the studies demonstrating the benefit of things like CBT, exercise, meditation, etc, are between 6-16 weeks in length. Even antidepressant medication can take about 6-8 weeks on average to start working.

But when you’re in the depths of depression or racked with anxiety, that’s a fucking long time to have to wait to see results. So quitting early is common. Even clinical trials, where a team of therapists and counselors are often there to provide support and leverage to participants, tend to see a dropout rate exceeding 30% [4]. So if you’re doing this stuff at home, alone, it’s easy to see how this figure could double or even treble.

The problem with “I tried that, it didn’t work” is that with a little semantic sleight of hand, it’s true. You can easily fool yourself into believing that you have indeed tried X, and that no, in fact, X did not work.

But this is the same kind of slippery get-out clause a cheating husband might conveniently employ when his wife accuses him of sleeping with other women. A charge he is able to deny in good conscience because indeed he hasn’t slept with anyone. Sure, he’s had sex with ten women in the past month. But that isn’t what he’s being accused of. He’s being accused of sleeping with other women. But he’s never so much as taken a nap with a single one of them. So, technically, he isn’t lying.

And this, I suspect, is exactly what many people are guilty of doing in relation to their own lack of success in trying to remedy their depression or anxiety using self-help techniques. I know I was.

So what to do?

Well, in the absence of being earnest – that is, in the absence of being serious in ones intention, purpose, or effort – you just have to be completely, brutally honest with yourself about it.

If you didn’t enjoy doing mindfulness meditation, or you found running too strenuous, fine. No big deal. If anything, this is good! This is an honest analysis of the situation that can help you reevaluate your approach. Maybe you’d be better off trying vipassana or guided meditation. And instead of running, maybe try low-intensity yoga instead.

In convincing yourself that it was the technique that was lacking rather than your commitment to it or the way you approached it, and then dismissing the entire project as inadequate or fraudulent, all you’re doing is limiting your options for your recovery based on a false evaluation, leading you to potentially dismiss something which had you stuck to it for the prescribed measure of time, could have been of immense benefit.

Furthermore, being too quick to dismiss this or that technique can quickly begin to contribute to the illusion that you’re somehow incurable. A special case. CBT works for millions of other people but it didn’t work for me! Wow, I must be really fucked up.

Apply this dismissive approach to every half-hearted attempt at the options available to you and pretty soon you’ll find yourself locked inside a prison of your own making, the walls a mere mirage constructed entirely of false testimonials that have you convinced you have nowhere else to turn.

Depending in whose company you make these claims as well, the consequences could be much further reaching than the end of your nose.

Let’s say for instance you choose to claim that you’ve tried CBT and that it didn’t work, and then post this claim on a mental health forum, or announce it during a discussion with a mental health support group. In reality you didn’t try CBT at all, you merely dabbled for a few days and got bored with it. But they don’t know that.

A fellow sufferer, hear your denouncement of CBT as “a waste of time” because “it doesn’t work”, and on your condemnation alone decide not to engage with it, despite the fact that it may have been of considerable benefit to them.

The importance of this point can’t be overstated. Truth be told, there are a relatively limited number of legitimate – that is, adequately studied and clinically verified – options available to people struggling with their mental health. And we do a great disservice to these methods, which are often based on solid research and designed by hard working, well meaning people, by denouncing them based on false testimonials, and which only serve to unfairly destroy their wider reputation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should never criticize any of these methods simply to avoid discouraging those who might possibly benefit from them. On the contrary, they should be scrutinized to the highest degree, so that their methodology can be further refined and perfected.

But in order to scrutinize the efficacy of any therapeutic technique fairly, one must be reasonable about the bases on which they are to be scrutinized. Particularly when the technique in question requires a certain level of input and commitment from the person participating in it.

Is it really fair to scrutinize an 8 week daily meditation program based on a few sporadic days worth of participation? Hardly. To come to a negative conclusion about this particular meditation program based on this level of engagement would be analogous to a chef judging the outcome of a meal based on the recipe in a cookbook, but ignoring how he went about following the instructions.

It said four eggs, but I haven’t got eggs so I’ll just use a couple of turds. It said cook in a frying pan, but I haven’t got one of those so I’ll just use this rusty old hubcap. It said serve on a plate, but mine are all in the dishwasher so I’ll just spread it on the back of a raccoon carcass. Oh look, my scrambled eggs taste like shit. I’m not using that recipe book again. One star Amazon review: “Rubbish cookbook. Doesn’t work”.

On the other hand, let’s say you did complete the entire program down to the letter, and it really didn’t work for you. Now your evaluation of the technique is of genuine value to both the people who developed it and the people who are maybe thinking about trying it, as you can now offer up a detailed analysis of your own experience which the creators can use to refine their technique and the public can use to make a truly informed decision about whether or not it might be suitable for them.

More valuable than this though, is what the experience has taught you. You now know that meditation or yoga really isn’t the answer for you. But in seeing the entire process through from start to finish, you cultivated your ability to follow through and can now seek out other methods without looking back over your shoulder, confident in the knowledge that the road before you has narrowed based on conscious refinement and not pure self deception.

With all this in mind, maybe it’s time to look back over your past efforts to improve your mental health and ask yourself: That CBT course, that exercise regime, that diet program. Did you really try it, or did you just dabble with it? It didn’t work, or you didn’t do the work?

Now don’t get me wrong here, if you have been guilty of this, I’m not calling into question your commitment to the cause. I know you want to be able to see these things through. Nor am I underestimating the unfathomable level of resolve it takes to complete such mammoth tasks with any level of consistency while in the depths of depression or riddled with anxiety.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Jesus Christ, it took me four years and numerous half-arsed attempts before I finally mustered up the resolve to stick to anything for longer than a week.

All I’m asking is that should you call it quits at any point, that in hindsight you be honest about your level of adherence to the terms and conditions, so as not to misremember the experience and thus undervalue the potential inherent within the technique.

If you only managed three days of that 8 week meditation program. If you only quit McDonald’s for two days. If that exercise bike you bought was turned into a fucking coat hanger one week after buying it. Fine. No big deal. Just be honest about it. For your own sake.

And if somebody else asks you whether you’ve tried this or that therapeutic endeavor, this doesn’t mean you have to embarrass yourself by admitting that you didn’t really understand it, or that you just weren’t disciplined enough. Just say “no”. Because that’s the truth.

With this kind of honesty, you leave your options open to revisit certain approaches when you’re good and ready. For a fresh start, with a refined approach, and clear conscience. Instead of backing yourself into a corner that doesn’t exist because of failures that didn’t technically happen.

So, whatever it is. Whether it’s CBT, diet, meditation, exercise, you name it. Like my grandma used to say when we talked about fisting: Don’t knock it til you’ve really, really, tried it!



  1. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed:
  2. The Efficacy and Effectiveness of Psychological Treatments:
  3. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis:
  4. The Uphill Path to Successful Clinical Trials, Keeping Patients Enrolled:


Image courtesy: Carlos Luna