Hidden Barriers to Happiness Blog

Have you always wondered about the invisible forces that affect your health, wealth and happiness?

As a neuroscientist, and then neuro and nutritional epidemiologist, I researched the underlying causes of mental and health problems.  Now as a Holistic Healer for a Happy & Healthy Brain, I regularly make new discoveries while working with clients.

Curious?   Sign up to get my Top 10 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Brain.  You’ll also get 2-4 newsletters month about the hidden barriers that get in the way of the life you really want!

What are you waiting for?  Knowledge is power!

Is it Really “Common Sense”?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in forgive, healthy, perception, relationships, thoughts, versions of the truth | 0 comments

Is it Really “Common Sense”?

When I hear the phrase “It’s just common sense”, I cringe.

Why?   Because our version of “common sense” is based on our environment and past experiences.   What might be common sense to an American, can be very different than what is considered common sense to someone born in a different culture.

Case in point:


Seven Reasons Why Travel is Good For Your Brain

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in healthy brain, travel | 0 comments

Seven Reasons Why Travel is Good For Your Brain

Are you feeling too tied down by work to get away for that badly needed vacation?

It turns out, you are not alone. The average American only takes half of their vacation time, and we have less vacation time than any other developed country!

Many of us feel too guilty for taking time off. We don’t want to perceived as that employee that doesn’t take their work seriously.   We struggle to let go of our never ending to do list.

But taking time off is good for our brains.   So if you need a good excuse to take that vacation, you can tell your boss all the reasons why it will help you work smarter and harder:


Improve all your Relationships with this Simple Mindset Shift

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in healthy, love, relationships | 0 comments

Improve all your Relationships with this Simple Mindset Shift

Growing up, my parents valued hard work over everything else.   One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “I don’t believe in having too much fun”.   Having play dates was not encouraged or often allowed!

Therefore, I didn’t have a lot of practice making friends or developing healthy relationships.   Without good modeling for what healthy relationships looked like, I had to figure things out the hard way, through a tons of trial and error.  I suffered for decades, feeling like I was all alone and incapable of being loved!

That was why I was thrilled to learn
about the Smart Couple podcast by Jayson Gaddis. Its purpose is to give couples the tools they need to have win-win relationships. As a single person, it helped me figure out what I needed to do to have healthy relationships, and what I would need from a future partner.   But another key benefit is that what he shares can be applied to improving all of our relationships with friends, family, people we work with, and even ourselves!

I took a class with him to dive more deeply into the material, and got a lot out of it. But if I were asked to give you the most valuable tip I learned, this mindset shift would be it.   I feel so strongly about this analogy, that I believe if it were spread far and wide, it could change the world.

What is this valuable mindset shift?

Why we might thrive or just survive

Posted by on Apr 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why we might thrive or just survive

Do you feel blocked from achieving your dreams?

Are there specific things that you would love to be able to do, but it just feels too risky?

Some people are always doing something new. They push themselves to grow whether it’s with work, with hobbies, or personal development. Others live more stagnant lives. They may stay in the same jobs, stay in relationships that aren’t working, and never live the life they had hoped to live.

Our mindset is crucial to our potential for success.   People who dare to challenge themselves to try new things have the growth mindset. I’ve written more about the fixed vs. growth mindset in my article The Power of Believing You Can Improve. But what orients a person towards a growth mindset, more than another?


Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

Posted by on Apr 15, 2017 in abuse, bullying, resiliency, toxic relationships | 0 comments

Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

You’ve seen it before.   A man makes a comment that can be interpreted as insensitive or abusive depending on the listener, and every so often you hear a woman that rails into him, to just let him know how inappropriate he was. Seeing this is often shocking to those of us who are used to quietly taking it, wondering what we’ve done to justify his abuse.

Our responses to abuse can vary tremendously depending many factors.

A healthy response is one where we have a clear sense of when we, or others are being inappropriate. We know what we are willing to tolerate, and we don’t allow others to treat us badly.   We can assert our right to be treated well without being abusive to those we feel are mistreating us.

An unhealthy response can take many forms.

Maybe we walk away and take it personally, and start to wonder if the abuser’s accusation are true.

Maybe we don’t anything to the abuser, and start asking ourselves, our friends or even God whether we had brought this abuse upon ourselves.

Maybe we lash out and become just as abusive towards the abuser.

Maybe we hold on to the belief that the abuser deliberately meant to hurt us, when the truth is far more complicated.

Maybe we refuse to see our role in the abuse.

With some people and some situations, we might respond well, whereas with others we may lose our cool.

So what are the factors that determine how we respond?


The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in conflict, healthy, relationships, toxic relationships | 0 comments

The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

I grew up in a home where I was regularly yelled at for doing things like leaving lights on, for eating too much, or wanting too much. I was told that it was my job not to make my father angry, and so I felt like I was constantly stressed, and feeling like I was walking on egg-shells around the house.   I was taught that we had to respect and obey our elders, and the idea of standing up for myself was completely foreign to me.   Since I didn’t believe I would be able to avoid his anger, I tried to not have feelings and needs.   This set me up for a lifelong pattern of isolating when I was unhappy, and trying to deal with it on my own.

The problem with this model, is (more…)

New Hope For Alzheimer’s

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Alzheimer's, Dementia | 2 comments

New Hope For Alzheimer’s

Do you know anyone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease?

Do you know anyone that has either in the family?

You’ve probably heard that there is no cure.   But as a Neuroscientist, Epidemiologist and Holistic Brain Health Practitioner, I am more optimistic about prospects for recovery than most Western Medical Doctors.  Why?

I’ve presented this information to several audiences, and was asked to make a video so that it can share with their loved ones.   If you know anyone who has a family member with Alzheimer’s, you will want to see this and share it with them!  Just watch the video below:


When your loved one won’t go to the doctor

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When your loved one won’t go to the doctor

Lois was starting to forget things.   First it began with forgetting names or words in the middle of a conversation. She quickly dismissed it as a sign of old age, and decided that it wasn’t anything to worry about.   But she started to get more embarrassed about her occasional memory lapses, and felt less and less inclined to leave her home for social activities.

She had been cooking for her husband John for years, but, her meals were becoming more bland. Sometimes she forgot vegetables, other times, she forgot the meat.

John noticed things weren’t normal, but he told himself, that these were occasional mistakes, and that it they weren’t a big deal.   Things were changing slowly. Lois had good days and days where she’d forget things or lose things.   But neither of them were ready to face the idea that there could be something much more serious that needed to be addressed!

old man confusedThen one day Lois went to the grocery store and didn’t come back for hours.   (more…)

How Our Filter Messes With Our Relationships

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

How Our Filter Messes With Our Relationships

Years ago, I had a housemate that I could never seem to please. While I harbored no ill will towards him, he seemed to be offended at everything I said or did, regardless of my intention behind it. If I tried to apologize or explain my intentions, he wouldn’t hear them.   I started to feel like everything I did, regardless of my intent would be taken as being rude or inconsiderate, and I felt like I was walking on eggshells. It was exhausting!

In a calmer moment between us, I tried to explain to him that he (like everyone) has a filter, which paints our perspective about how we see the world. If there is someone that he has negative associations with in his past that I subconsciously remind him of, then he sees me through that filter.   I believed he had an opinion of me that he was subconsciously trying to hold on to, because he wasn’t willing to hear that my intentions were not what he perceived them to be.

This filter we have can make or break relationships.

You know what I am talking about. You’ve met people that you feel like you have to walk on eggshells with. You know people that get easily angered or triggered regardless of your intentions, right? On the other hand, you probably also know people who you can laugh and joke around with, and even tease, and they seem to be fine with laughing at their own expense.

Often times this filter changes regularly in the same relationships as well, and it all depends on our mood and the context.

We often forget this about this filter, but because it is SO powerful at shaping our story, it is important that we fully appreciate its impact.   Below is a true story about how it even shapes how we view an image!


A Powerful Strategy to Become the Best You

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in behavior, beliefs, relationships | 0 comments

A Powerful Strategy to Become the Best You

As I child I was told early on that I asked too many questions and had too many needs.   My father was constantly angry, and he told me it was my responsibility to not make him so.   So my response was to belittle my needs, and try to be less demanding.

Recently, I found myself in a similar pattern in a project I was working on, where I felt like I was walking on eggshells to fulfill the needs of someone else. I dismissed my own needs in favor of theirs and began getting resentful.

Yet I am a firm believer that we need to stand up for our rights and what we believe in, and that if we stay silent, we will lose our voice and our power.

I realized that I am caught in this conflict of not knowing, when is it OK to speak up, and when is it better to shut up?

I’ve recently noticed the pattern that people with healthier relationships do speak up. They feel more entitled to being treated well than I do, and there is even research to support this.

I was in the midst of pondering this conundrum, when I showed up for my yoga class. The teacher talked about setting an intention for our practice, but said that to face our current times, we need something deeper, something more long lasting, we need to concept of the sankalpa.

What is the sankalpa?