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How do you suggest empowering your teen to look within for happiness instead of feeling like a loser because she broke up with her boyfriend and her best friends are traveling and she feels all alone and unpopular.

- Tracy, Northern California

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Listen to Doctor Katherine's Answer...  

DR. LARSON'S ANSWER:
Tracy, this situation can help YOU help your daughter develop several Inspired Kids Secrets of Success Skills

It can help her practice a skill I call Blow the Horn™.

"Blow the Horn" is a mindset skill which uses gratitude to propel oneself forward with joy.

Your daughter's challenge is also about the skills I call Ditch the Don't Wants™ and Intend Change™.

"Ditch the Don't Wants" is about focusing on what one wants instead of what one does not want.

And, finally, "Intend Change" is about the willingness to take a small step toward improving one's situation.

Tracy, you've described a tough situation. It's very difficult to watch our kids suffer.

Obviously, I'd express empathy to her and I'm sure you have. When it comes to teens pretty much all a parent can do is offer options and they have to choose to take them or not.

One thing that might be helpful is encourage your daughter to get her mind and focus onto things she WANTS and off of what is happening to her that she doesn't want.

As long as she focuses on "I don't want to be alone." "I don't want to be here." "I don't want..." Her subconscious will continue to produce behaviors and attract actions from others that are exactly what she doesn't want to happen - so she won't be able to change her feelings and move forward with joy.

I think it might be helpful to use some of the recent science on the benefits of gratitude and how it enhances our lives deeply.

Robert Emmons, a professor at the Univ. of Calif. Davis has done a lot of experimental studies on the benefits of focusing on what we are grateful for versus focusing on hassels or downward life events.

Just in the last few years, he and others have found that the cultivation of feelings of gratitude as opposed to life negatives during daily journeling caused people to feel more healthful, exercise more, feel more alert, determined, energetic, more likely to report helping others.

His conclusion was that an effective strategy for raising one's pleasure feelings and health was to stop focusing on complaints and start focusing on things one is grateful for or gifts received.

People who wrote for a brief time in their journals every day or a few times a week reported increased feelings of loving, forgiving, joy, and enthusiasm.

Of course, if your daughter feels these positive feelings she is much more likely to attract others who are loving, joyful and enthusiastic about her and about life.

So, Tracy I suggest you invite your daughter to start a journal and tell her what you heard about the science behind this habit of cultivating gratitude.

You might even start your own journal and the two of you could make it a shared endeavor.

If you want to know more about this topic, Robert Emmons wrote a book titled THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Published by Houghton-Mifflin.
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