Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

8 Mental Skills for American Strength & Unity on Memorial Day

Special Feature from JohnFMurray.com – May 27, 2018 – Palm Beach, Florida – I am neither Republican nor Democrat and register each year as an Independent. In this spirit, I try to evaluate the issues and candidates on my own and try to avoid the shallow expediency of a party affiliation or too much emotion to cloud my choices. I just never believed that relinquishing my thoughts and beliefs to the simplicity of an aisle or partisan stance would produce quality thinking or decision making. Many could say that in not joining a party I am not furthering a cause, but I believe that by remaining neutral I gain a clearer perspective. I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats and will continue doing so based on what I believe is needed at the time.

As a psychologist specialized in the area of “high performance” often called sports psychology, I have been fortunate over the years to contribute my views to several thousand broadcast and print forums as liberal as The Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, and NPR, as conservative as Fox News, the Washington Times and the Christian Science Monitor, and some more middle of the road platforms such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and USA Today. I’m not sure where “The Hill” fits in, but I’ve advised them too with ways to cope with the stress of the political season.  No matter what forum I was privileged to express on, I always tried to steer clear of politicizing issues unless you call a strong message that more mental training is needed in society is political. Some would say that is a very liberal message (after all Hillary fought long and hard for more psychology) while others would say that the power and strength that comes from better mental skills leading to more success sounds more like it is coming out of the mouth of our president. I don’t care. As a scientist and professional I just want people to know about the power of mental skills.

But I digress, and my rare message today is political! Our country is very divided. You cannot post a political message on Facebook or any other popular social media forum today without getting eviscerated by half the crowd and crowned champion by the other half. This bipolar nature of the current American public is not healthy. We know how unhealthy bipolar disorder is within one human being, so why would it be any different in society? When clear and rational thinking and logic is replaced by emotional grandstanding the result is going to be mush. We are so polarized by our stance that we by definition forfeit our otherwise good thinking and reasoning skills to a more mob-like mentality. We try so hard to crush the infidel that wise thoughts and actions are impossible.

We enjoy freedoms in large part due to the sacrifices made on the battlefields. This idea of individual freedom was never a given. It was somewhat novel in history and it was and is still earned with blood. To respect those who have fallen before us to protect our freedoms so that they do not disappear, we owe them and we owe ourselves clear and rational thinking.

Having studied thinking and high performance for many years, and applied this to teams in business and sports, and individuals in many challenging situations, I would like to give America a free sports psychology session in this article. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, or if you are independent like me, you really to need to be using your mental skills when you think about politics and act for what you believe is best politically. It is my view that only clear thinking and logic will lead to better decisions, better voting, and ultimately what is better for our country. So, in this way, I would like to think that I am giving Americans a political advantage.

Here goes:

  • Be Passionate in Fully Expressing Your View: Don’t deride those on the other side of the political aisle, but by all means express your own views with passion and purpose. Steer clear of insults, foul language and personal attacks on those who don’t share your stance, and just let your passion on the issue shine through. It’s like in sales. You are not going to sell much by simply putting down the other brand. You need to be excited about your own brand but with respect.
  • Work Hard to Understand the Issue: Whatever viewpoint you are espousing, do your homework so that you can defend your stance logically and clearly and with facts rather than just emotion.
  • Be Flexible to Change if Needed: Be willing to change your view if after careful analysis you find that the facts support your opposition’s stance.  This is hard to do and it is very rare, but being humble and flexible in this way will pay off in a big way with others. You may also acquire a more solid stance in the process.
  • Stay 100% Focused on the Issue at Hand: So many people get distracted by emotion or insults, and then react in kind. Before long you have a food fight that goes in 5 different directions. Nothing gets accomplished. Keep your focus on whatever the issue is and only change topics when it is appropriate and both parties are willing.
  • Be Confident but Not Over-Confident: Each person has the right to believe fully in what they are saying, but should not let that confidence intrude into blind belief when new facts or a different set of circumstances indicate that their confidence might be misguided. In the game of chess, and life, clear thoughts and logical reasoning always destroy emotional rants. Stay confident but be willing to keep thinking and not foreclose on your belief just because at one point you believed that in the past.
  • Manage Your Emotions: This one is huge. So many people polarize to one side or the other and the game is over. They then make stronger and stronger arguments to bolster their initial view and it often leads to extremely high and uncontrollable emotions such as anger, rage, fury and more. Temper tantrums are a sign of weakness. If you are arguing with someone and they begin blowing their top or using vulgarity, you have probably won the argument. Stay even headed.
  • Visualize all the Way to the Polls: In deciding which candidate to vote for, or how to frame your argument, spend some time in advance playing it all out in your mind. This is a bread and butter technique that I use with all athletes in my sports psychology work, and you should use it as well in your formulation of stances, and in your overall thinking about politics.
  • Know the End Game: In trying to decide who to vote for or in formulating you view on a particular issue, keep thinking about how this will all play out in the end. Rather than just aiming for really short-term goals and objectives, ask yourself how this will impact America 2, 5, 10 and 50 years down the road.

I hope you have enjoyed this mental skills primer on Memorial Day. I will leave you with one more thought. If you are liberal, right now think of one valid viewpoint that is frequently espoused by conservatives. If you are conservative, think of one valid stance mostly taken by liberals. If you cannot do this, then you are by definition on an emotional plane. There is no way in the world that any one side of the aisle has all the correct truths on all the issues. It is just impossible. Try to be more flexible, and re-read the 8 Mental Skills for American Strength & Unity.

Happy Memorial Day!

Autopsy of Evil: Making Sense of Vegas Shooting

 

Special Psychological Feature to JohnFMurray.com – October 6, 2017 – Palm Beach, Florida – I am neither a criminologist nor an FBI profiler with expertise on rare and horrific crimes. However, I am a clinical and sports psychologist who, at age 55, has many years of experience delving into the deepest thoughts and feelings of thousands of clients in evaluations, psychotherapy and case studies. While I might not be the optimal professional opinion on what possibly went wrong in the head of this individual, I probably have a more informed perspective than most. I have studied what makes people tick, and what could possibly lead them to tick like a time bomb in such a maladaptive way. I admittedly step slightly out of my area of expertise in this article, but proceed nevertheless because I believe I have something to contribute to the analysis.

Let’s get one thing straight. There is no excuse for what Stephen Paddock did in Las Vegas this week. It was an act of pure evil. If he had not committed the ultimate act of cowardice through suicide, I would fully expect him to face the harshest punishment society can offer. The only exception, in my mind, would be if he were totally unresponsible for his actions and unaware of what he was doing due to extreme psychosis. This does not seem to be the case. He planned his dastardly actions for months as a meticulous and capable thinker. He built a fortune with his mind. He knew darn well what he was doing and he wanted to maim as many people as possible.  With the lack of a better phrase, I will term this “pure evil.”

One thing that repeatedly emerges in the scientific analysis of evil, and this is consistent with my perceptions, is a strong lack of empathy. These psychopaths usually have an almost complete inability to see the world from another’s perspective and are unable to feel or appreciate another person’s pain. It is almost as if they are mentally disabled in an area of the brain that allows them to see the world in another person’s shoes. I believe that to be safe as a society, we will eventually need to screen for this extreme lack of empathy and take proactive steps to prevent these selfish psychopaths from hurting others.  I envision a day in the distant future where people going for their driver’s license exams or trying to achieve employment or college admission will have to pass a complex but reliable empathy test too. Fail this test and you get watched more closely. Even though the last thing I want is for government to intrude more into our lives, this is a serious potential risk factor that needs to be more closely monitored and more closely controlled. We are nowhere near this level of sophistication and scrutiny in screening for this in society, but we need to be because a person with an intent to harm and no empathy is far more dangerous than a gun. I will steer clear of the whole gun control debate, however, and just stick to the analysis of evil in this paper.

Evil is typically a more mundane “I don’t give a s*** about anyone else” rather than a more blatant and overt personality development in which the individual assumes the role of an identified killing machine or societal predator. That is also why I believe people often miss the clues. How many times have we heard, “oh, he was such a nice and quiet guy” in trying to make sense of the most recent mass murder?

Lack of empathy is the linchpin to understanding this! In fact, if a person realized what he or she was really doing and how much it would actually hurt others, the evil act would probably never be committed. In my view, it’s the absence of emotion and the banality of evil that is the crucial element that poses the biggest risk to society. Boring and methodical intellectuals who are unhappy and totally unconcerned with others are more dangerous to society than the easily identified and obnoxious bullies.

The Germans during WW2 coldly gassed millions of innocent people in concentration camps not because German people have some inherent blood lust or collective brain damage. It was much more the result of the German political leaders intellectualizing their problems and using reductionist and inaccurate scapegoating of targeted populations. The horrible end, in their twisted analysis, justified the means. It was also a blind following of these leaders due to extreme fear combined with a strong emphasis on obedience. This all added up to acts and ways of thinking based more on simplistic and false intellectualization instead of more complex and accurate reasoning. Rather than digging into the true causes and consequences of their actions, they fixated on an ideology of racism and genocide that was idiotic and lacked human empathy at its core.

WW2 Germany was not the only example of this. Far from it. Armies throughout history, including the USA army, dehumanize the enemy so that they can kill more effectively.  You’ve heard of Japs and Krauts? However, war presents a much different and hopefully more justifiable challenge. Even if the process of simplistic thinking is inherently insensitive and lacking in empathy, the need to rid the world of Nazis in WW2 was obviously a noble quest. The last thing allied soldiers needed to be doing at the Battle of the Bulge was processing the emotions of their enemies before firing their weapons. War is extreme hell and most life situations do not call for such extremes.

Stephen Paddock appears to have been caught up in his own twisted way of thinking and it did not allow room for others. While I have no idea what his motive was to inflict such pain on random people at a concert, you can be sure that empathy had no place in his mind. He must have reasoned that this was necessary. Like Charles Manson or Ted Kazinski, he probably convinced himself that he was answering to some higher calling and needed to exact revenge on the country music fans below him. There was probably some strange duty, agenda or justification going on in his head. He was too smart to have not contemplated this many times over and over yet this in no way indicates that his thinking was rational. Far from it. A twisted higher mission is still twisted. It is analogous to the Nazi final solution. It is sick and it is evil and it lacks empathy.

Here is my formula for this evil: (1) Lack of empathy + (2) twisted logic + (3) dehumanization of the victim = potential mass murder. In my view, that is the code for danger in a nutshell.

While the killer is solely responsible for his evil act, I also believe that the media in our society has a duty to steer much less clear of politics and return to ethical journalism in our day yet that will probably never happen. Fox says one thing while CNN says the opposite. It becomes polarized. All the while killing gets more advertising time. There are many benefits of capitalism, but many risks too. Where money is king, truth and corruption often reign and with more money you get more of that still.  Capitalism has many benefits so don’t think I support communism at all. But there are flaws in any system and we just need to be aware and promote more fair journalism that is less polarized if that is ever possible. While I do not blame the media directly for what happens with these mass killings, we are in some ways paying the price for capitalism gone mad. It is an escalation of news coverage of the horrible which leads to more eyes on the show, greater money from endorsements and advertisers, and that social learning principle of imitation clicks in. The Stephen Paddocks of the world see it and get ideas. I don’t remember it this bad growing up in the 60s and 70s when these media empires were not as large.

Stephen Paddock’s father was apparently a nightmare who was criminal, gun toting, violent, brilliant and abusive. His brother also apparently beat him up, according to early reports. As a result, Paddock probably built a life based on revenge and solitary genius. In other words, he despised most people and instead just focused on himself. He learned that empathy was meaningless. A guy that doesn’t care about most people is dangerous. He despised people and learned to succeed financially without them. His enormous pent up rage was finally released on what he perceived to be the biggest problem in the world – people. In killing, he might have felt like he was in some way gaining back some of what he lost in life for all the pain he went through in life.  Misery loves company. Those whom he considered to be abusive to him (perhaps his father) in some strange way inspired this need for revenge. It’s the ultimate payback.

You might ask why he was so insensitive in killing innocents whom he did not even know. It was his nature. He built his fortune on being a cold, insensitive, calculating numbers genius, not by caring for others. Killing innocents did not bother him because his playful innocent self as a child was probably killed off by his father and/or brother or someone else. He probably also had no belief structure or religion that might have helped him see the wrong of what he was doing. By doing this evil act he gained a level of twisted psychological equilibrium. The thinking might go like this, “hey … I was innocent and they screwed me over … so why should I care?”

This entire discussion fits into my theory that people who are most psychologically damaged are most dangerous to society. In the future we need to sniff out the unhappy people and monitor them closely for homicidal tendencies. What we don’t know about people can indeed hurt us.  It also fits in nicely with the New York cognitive-behavioral schools of psychology. Essentially, these theories posit that psychological illness is related to distorted thinking. In other words, irrational cognition, or self-talk, is the root of distress. Often in my work, the trick to helping someone is to adopt a cognitive behavioral perspective and work at changing a person’s fixed beliefs or underlying irrational or maladaptive thoughts. I guarantee you that Stephen Paddock had a plethora of irrational and dangerous beliefs in his head. And since he did not live in a social world (his world was abstract mathematics and beating the odds) he never encountered or allowed healthy challenges to his underlying assumptions. His arrogance as a self-made millionaire only bolstered that thinking further. Paddock didn’t need people for his success and even saw people as the cause of his deep hell. There might have also been a trigger event in months leading up to the killings, like a huge financial or love loss, but that is still uncertain. He actually needed solid psychotherapy more than ever in his life, but felt he was above it all and would not turn to people or therapy.

In sum, we have learned many times that the insecure can be very dangerous to society. It is close to a solid maxim in my mind. The key to more health and happiness and less mass killings is to sniff out this insecurity, help people feel more secure, challenge faulty and dangerous assumptions in thinking, and listen well. Many need to access psychotherapy or talk to anyone rather than acting out on crazy inner impulses that can be so dangerous. I’ve always liked to hang out with successful and happy people because they tend to be most secure and the least invested in creating havoc. They enjoy life and value life.

We certainly need to do something different than we are doing. Thanks for listening.  I hope you have enjoyed this expose from the world of psychology.

Caroline Murray, age 12, sings national anthem

In anticipation of her upcoming performance at the Palm Beach Polo Club, my 12 year old daughter, Caroline Murray, practices the national anthem on Valentines Day, 2016.

Enjoy by clicking at this link

Early retirement: players call it quits in prime of careers

Sports Psychology in Associate Press – By JANIE McCAULEY – July 30, 2015 – SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Willis walked away first with a nagging toe injury that kept him from being the dominant All-Pro linebacker of his prime.

Then his heir apparent and San Francisco teammate Chris Borland followed with his own stunning retirement on the heels of his spectacular rookie season, citing concern about head trauma over a hard-hitting career.

Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker called it quits after four seasons. Next, ex-Pittsburgh pass-rushing specialist Jason Worilds bid farewell to football. And then yet another 49er joined the list of departures from the NFL while still young: Offensive lineman and 2010 first-round pick Anthony Davis also chose his health and future over more punishing knocks in the head after a concussion left him dazed for weeks late last year.

“You don’t want to see guys walk away, but at the end of the day everyone has their own problems and things they need to deal with, their own reasons,” San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis said. “We didn’t expect Patrick to retire.”

Around the league, players began taking the leap to that unknown life after football — at 30 or younger, no less.

“As many players that do consider perhaps the long-term risks and the cost benefits of a long-term career in a contact sport, you’re going to get that,” said sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray, based in Palm Beach, Florida. “We’ve had more education and increased awareness from many avenues about the risks of concussions long term, the risks of the effects of that.”

In an offseason overshadowed by deflated footballs, Willis, Locker and the 27-year-old Worilds retired in a stunning 24-hour span starting March 10.

Five-time All-Pro Willis retired at age 30. Davis is 25 and Borland 24. Locker, then 26 — the NFL’s eighth overall pick in 2011 — never played a full season and appeared in only 30 games in all.

Willis left without a Super Bowl ring, coming so close following the 2012 season in a three-point loss to the Ravens.

“I always told myself that I wanted it to be on my terms,” Willis said in an emotional announcement at Levi’s Stadium last spring. “I wanted it to be in a way that was just amazing. … In my head, I’m already a Hall of Famer. I am leaving this with closure, saying that I am happy today, more happy today than I was the day I was drafted. That says something to me.”

San Francisco players expressed mixed emotions at the turnover, as fearsome defensive end Justin Smith also retired, though the 35-year-old had 14 years in the league.

Borland and Anthony Davis feared concussions and head injuries.

“When I started there wasn’t a whole lot of awareness on concussions,” 40-year-old 49ers placekicker Phil Dawson said. “Now, guys are informed. The doctors are on top of it. I think it’s a good deal.”

Willis, San Francisco’s defensive captain and locker room leader, explained his tender size-13 feet “12½ when they’re bent” could no longer handle the grind of NFL practices, let alone the demands of game day. He had surgery on his left big toe, went on season-ending injured reserve on Nov. 11 after getting hurt at St. Louis on Oct. 13.

“I have no regrets. I’ve had the most amazing eight years of football of my life,” he said.

Locker has returned to his roots in Washington state with his wife and two young children.

Davis, the outspoken offensive lineman, left open returning if his body fully heals. Davis had been considering leaving for a few years, announcing his plans in a statement.

“This will be a time for me to allow my brain and body a chance to heal. I know many won’t understand my decision, that’s OK,” Davis said. “I hope you, too, have the courage to live your life how you planned it when day dreaming to yourself growing up. Your life is your dream and you have the power to control that dream. I’m simply doing what’s best for my body as well as my mental health at this time in my life.”

For veterans who have stayed healthy, thoughts of retirement might be far from their minds.

“When you have those things going for you, why not keep playing?” 38-year-old Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “Even though you’ve got guys retiring, there’s a bunch of guys that would still love to be playing. For all of those guys that I’ve played with that tell me every year, ‘Keep going,’ because they would love to have this opportunity.”

Murray says the NFL shouldn’t be overly concerned about a dwindling talent pool.

“There will always be a demand for multi-million-dollar salaries and the glory that goes with playing NFL football,” he said.

Still, constant change is part of the business.

“Every man in here has the right to decide how long he wants to play. It’s his career,” Dawson said. “Whether it’s retirements, or injuries or trades or cuts or whatever the case may be, for those of us who are still here you’ve just got to come to work and do the best you can.”

AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker and AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report. I hope you enjoyed this item from the world of sports psychology.

The Importance of Confidence in Sports, Business, and Life

Sport Psychologist, Dr. John F. Murray on Confidence.
PALM BEACH, Fla., Dec. 8 PRNewswire — When sport performance psychologist John F. Murray decided to auction the idea of “Confidence” on eBay he had no idea how much interest this auction would draw. Top athletes and film stars use mental coaches, but he didn’t know whether the general public would pay for what might be called nothing more than an idea.

Bidding opened at $10 and after fifteen bids this idea sold for $250, representing perhaps the first time an “idea” has been sold in an auction. The winner is a recreational tennis player in New York. She will receive one hour of mental coaching by Dr. Murray.

“I had a hunch this would draw some attention since so many are beginning to recognize the value of confidence and mental training. The auction testified to broad-based interest,” said Dr. Murray, who has coached some of the top athletes in the world. “The public response justified my hunch.”

The auction was started to demonstrate public and professional interest in training the brain. “We’ve gone almost as far as we can go physically, but mental training is a territory with unlimited potential for improvement in business, sports, or life,” said Murray, who has spoken on this topic on numerous talk shows.

Many pro athletes, teams, businesses, and organizations receive the benefits of mental coaching, but most people are still often surprised to know that these services even exist as there are few legitimate performance psychologists or other professionals to provide these services.

Confidence is described as an umbrella term reflecting all the thoughts, feelings, actions and sensations reflecting self-belief and expectations of success. Top tennis professional Vincent Spadea spoke on national television about the benefits of mental coaching to reverse the longest losing streak in tennis history and return to top 20 in the world.

For more information about “mental training” and Dr. Murray go to http://www.JohnFMurray.com.

Contact:
John F. Murray, PhD
TEL: 561-596-9898
FAX: 561-805-8662

Dr. John. F. Murray is a Sport and Clinical Psychologist in Palm Beach, FL and helps athletes, and business people build their confidence.

Beijing Olympics: Sports Psychology profile of Adler Volmar

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 12, 2008 – Wednesday early Morning
Adler is nothing but energy! Yesterday was a big day as we finally met up with the man with a heart of gold who is going for the less significant piece of gold. He showed us all around the Olympic complex, the Team USA headquarters and living accommodations, and just about everything there was possibly to see in the Olympic Village.

The security, as you might imagine, is matchless. Once you finally do get in there are countless additional restrictions unless you have this number, decal or color on your badge.

What a great feeling as the weather cooperated following a rainstorm and the air looked actually clear and clean! Athletes were trading badges, walking from training session to another, playing silly video games, lounging, or meeting with media. If you can imagine a major university campus in the USA, with only
all the athletes out and about, and then multiply this by 150 — you get a glimpse of the awe.

I mean these are the best of the best, and the dreams of every country all in one spot.
Let’s talk a little more about Adler. He was born in Miami when his mother visited his sister, but he grew up in Haiti. When he was a teenager he was picked on by bullies and given a good beating. His mother insisted that he learn to defend himself, so at age 13 he started training for judo. By 15 he was a black belt and three years later, he was going to his first Olympics in Atlanta, where he carried the national flag.

After Atlanta, with very poor English, he was tricked into thinking that he had to join the US military and served in the Navy as a combat medic. He missed the 2000 Olympics largely due to his military service but tried again for the judo team in 2004 and missed, coming in third. Many would have given up but Adler persisted with the dream for the gold and he rose in the ranks and won several major international events leading up to the Beijing Olympic trials.

That is when he tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral cruciate, and the Miami Dolphins team physician, Dr. Caldwell, surgically repaired his knee in February and told him he had between a 0 and 1 percent chance of even competing at the June Olympic trials. Adler heard “one percent” and he said “that was plenty enough for me!”

At the trials, he had to win in a sudden-death overtime and it was a highly controversial ending … but the fact is he won and he now represents the USA Team Judo in the 100kg class.

I’ve given you just a sketch of the facts. What you might not realize is that he is one of the most humble and caring persons I have ever met! Can you believe this … for a world class athlete. His mother died last year and she has been an inspiration. His wife has been tirelessly patient and supportive as he reaches for his goals. He had a great training staff in his recovery and then I had the honor of him calling for an appointment only a little over a month ago. We hit it off immediately and he kept telling me that he was taking me with him to Beijing. I kept denying it sarcastically. Well … he felt strongly enough about the mental game and our rapport that he inisted I go and got the plane ticket and hotel reservation.

Very few in the world media or judo land really believe in Adler. He is a definite sleeper from those in the supposed know. But when you meet him, you realize it is never about Adler; rather, he is on a mission to change lives. He has a great family with three kids and he wants to make their lives better.

He wants to get the first gold for judo in U.S. history. He even told me that he wants to help me with the sport
psychology. The man is sincere and he is funny, too. During our long walks around the village he often teased and joked, but the serious side came out too and there is no doubt in his mind that he will walk away with gold, but even that he ultimately gives up to a higher source — his belief and his faith.He never should have been here after that injury, but he is, and the world will have to deal with it.

There are 32 fighters in the draw at the 100kg class and his first opponent Thursday is from Bosnia. He says, “just five steps to change our lives forever,” meaning just win five matches and he will fulfill his mission, and his faith removes any anxiety.

As he said, “This is way beyond me … I’m here for the ride!” Thanks for all your support readers. Today we will go watch some live judo matches and I’ll do some more imagery and relaxation training with Adler. He is one of the best that I have ever seen mentally … yet he also realizes that he needs to be tip-top shape physically as well as mentally. So he takes our work together seriously … looking for ever-so-slight an edge.
I’m going to get some more sleep now.

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

Beijing Olympics: Here we come

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 9, 2008 – Sunday – Detroit – 2:15 PM
If you are going to the Olympics, and especially as far away as Beijing, you better not miss the flight, so I stayed the night in a Ft. Lauderdale hotel not far from the airport and we just arrived in Detroit to catch the flight to Tokyo and then on to the big city.

I flew up with Crystal and we met her father, Earl, smartly attired in his red, white and blue sporting clothes, so the three of us can pursue with Adler (Volmar) the mission of (judo) gold. Over lunch we discussed again how all athletes need to believe totally in their abilities and in their chance of actually winning the gold. At the same time, the best athletes — Adler included — know that while they are giving their best and outworking and out-thinking their opponents in preparation for the big day, ultimately outcome is decided by a higher force, be it spiritual or the mere fact that as hard as you prepare there might be someone else on the other side of the mat who prepared longer, smarter, or better.

Still you pursue the dream with total confidence and willpower, with the best possible strategy, nutrition and physical training possible. Another topic that came up over lunch was the “Tiger Woods” element. This is the flow that was written about so long ago in the book “Flow” in the 1960s. There are a lot of cliches that cover the topic of focus and concentration, but so few athletes come even close to maximizing their use of flow.

Just look at the history of Olympic records and how records are broken every year, and how it is almost a steady progression of faster times and greater strength, so if you examine the Olympics 100 years from today the accomplishments of today will look very average. Mentally this highlights that we are never truly reaching our human potential in sports — but only approaching an unlimited human potential.

OK, enough philosophizing for now. I am seated amongst about an 80 percent population of Japanese citizens returning to their homeland as we all three get ready to board the massive 747 with upstairs seating and a food/drink lounge to Tokyo.

The upcoming 14 hours of flying would seem taxing if not for the fact that less than two years ago I flew down to Australia with Vince Spadea for the three tournaments at the start of the 2007 season — Adelaide, Sydeny and Melbourne and it was about a 26 hour trek! So, we are all excited to join Adler in Beijing as this two time Olympian gets ready for his day of destiny on August 14.

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

Top 5 Ways to Deal with Financial Stress

John F. Murray, Ph.D.

John F. Murray, Ph.D.

In the last 13 years our country has seen plenty of ups and downs in the stock market including the devastating “.com bubble” at the beginning of the 21st century. Employment has sometimes been at rates that are comparable to that of the great depression, and there are numerous job positions and entire industries that are bordering on extinction because of technological advances.

Regardless of the number of zeroes that may be attached to your bottom line, it is likely that you and the people around you have all been put under some stress in this recent time period. This article names 5 of the best ways that you can cope with the psychological, economic, and family-related stresses that your finances bring into your life.

Seek Information and Greater Knowledge

While doing this may help to act as a distraction from your worries, this is not the only role that this plays in relieving stress from your life. Remember the old phrase “knowledge is power”? This is true in the practical sense and in that knowledge also helps to instill confidence in one’s self. Adding to your own confidence can be a stress reliever.

Here are two great articles on my website that I suggest reading that also deal with this general topic:

  1. Positives Hiding in Stock turmoil
  2. Stress: It’s Worse than You Think

Attend a Workshop or Seminar

There is a wide range of seminars and workshops being conducted out there that are intended to help relieve stress in your life (especially financial stress). I conduct some of these seminars myself with my clients and sometimes for the general public. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss setting up a seminar for your corporation or group. I can be reached at (561) 596-9898.

Join a Social Group or Network

It’s not just you out there, and I can assure you that you are not the only one asking the question of how to relieve the financial stress in your life. Don’t just join any group (although there are benefits to joining just about any positively-oriented group). Join a group that has a good leader, moderator, or psychologist who is qualified to help you.

Visit a Museum or Look at Other Art

I love giving this suggestion to my clients because almost everyone has some type of art that they can appreciate. You may like collecting or viewing paintings. Some people enjoy watching musicians play. The type of art that you like is almost inconsequential to the conversation. A geology professor might simply enjoy driving through the mountains and viewing the different rock layers that are visible (think of that as God’s art).

My personal preference for art is in mechanical wrist watches. Some of the watches that I have collected in the past have been artistic time pieces in their own right because of the way that they were crafted, but they have also had some historical significance to the sports world. I once had a 1955 Bulova wristwatch, for example, that was inscribed to Pee Wee Reese (Brooklyn Dodgers) after his team beat the NY Yankees in the World Series.

The type of art that you collect or appreciate is up to you. The role that this plays in your life will likely be much the same.

Become an Even More Avid Sports Fan

Don’t just work hard all day and allow this to be the only activity in your life. Showing your sports face as a fan and showing some passion for your team can help to relieve some of the financial stress in your life.

I hope that these 5 tips are helpful to my readers who are feeling an increase in stress due to their finances. Seek information, attend a workshop, join a social group, look at art, and become a more avid sports fan. I’m sorry that I haven’t told you how to decrease your stock market risk while maintaining a portfolio that was capable of earning 30% each year, but I hope that these tips will at least make life a little bit more pleasant while you are searching for someone who can do that for you.

If this is your first time visiting my website, please stop by the homepage for information about sports psychology. There are also sections that are dedicated to tennis psychology, golf psychology, and great sports psychology quotes.

 

Health and Wellness

Dr. John F. Murray’s work with private clients and groups also extends to areas of health, fitness, wellness and lifestyle. His specialization in the health psychology track at the University of Florida Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, and first masters degree earned within the Department of Health and Human Performance, provided the training for this focus.

Individuals and groups benefit by learning to eat healthier, exercise smarter, manage stress better, and improve lifestyle habits. Dr. Murray has conducted many seminars and workshops on stress management and conflict resolution, and the mental principles he uses with athletes and businesses apply equally to overall health and life satisfaction.

Dr. Murray has also contributed to many health and fitness publications such as Prevention, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Fitness, AmericasDoctor.com, Conditioning and Training Magazine, Physical Magazine, and RemedyRX.

Thank You for Visiting. Call 561-596-9898 or send an email to johnfmurray@mindspring.com

London Smart Tennis Sports Psychology Workshops Coming June 17 & 18

UPCOMING: DR JOHN F MURRAY’S 9TH ANNUAL SMART TENNIS SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY WORKSHOPS IN LONDON, ENGLAND. CHOOSE TO ATTEND EITHER JUNE 17 OR 18 FOR A FULL DAY OF ON-COURT AND OFF-COURT LEARNING AND FUN. SEE DETAILS BY CLICKING THIS LINK.

Please call Dr. John F Murray at 561-596-9898 to reserve your place. I hope you can attend this exciting event from the world of sports psychology.