Oprah Winfrey  20/20  CNN  Dr. Phil  Fox News  20/20 Listen to Distraction Now! Good Morning America  Dr Oz  cnbc log  youtube Harvard business publishing verified by Psychology Today

Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health

A resource about ADD, ADHD, and mental health




  • Nomee: Hi Doctor, Wish my prescriber could realize the above mentio...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I call ADHD a condition deliberately, because words and how ...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I was at the ACO conference in Reston VA in April and attend...
  • TheADHDGuy1: I tend to have a mid-afternoon slump at around 2:30pm. I wis...
  • edie: Letter to Dr. Hollowell's blog/response Having raised 3 c...


sign-up for Dr. Hallowell�s newsletter

Back to site

Dr. Hallowell's Blog

The Best ADHD Treatment

Accentuate the Positive in ADHD

The identification of talents and strengths is one of the most important parts of ADHD treatment. People with ADHD usually know their shortcomings all too well, while their talents and strengths have been camouflaged by what’s been going wrong. The moment of diagnosis proves a spectacular opportunity to change that. The best way to change a life of frustration into a life of mastery is by your developing your talents and strengths, not just shoring up your weaknesses.
Keep the focus on what you are, rather than on what your are not. To thrive in life, you need to find what you’re best at, then build upon those talents and skills. The older you get, the more time you should spend developing what you’re good at. In the long run that’s where you will find fulfillment.

Perhaps you’re wondering what’s the best way to promote your talents and strengths?  Considering that I’ve struggled with this too,  I developed a 5-step plan that I hope will help you as much as it has helped me.  The five steps constitute a cycle, one step naturally leading to the next. Then the entire cycle repeats itself. Once started, it can continue for a lifetime, like a giant flywheel of joy, feeding off its own momentum. As you set the cycle in motion, you will see positive developments immediately, and they will grow in strength and depth over time.

The first step is to CONNECT—with family,  friends, community,  a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a supervisor, a lover, a pet, yourself,  nature  (and don’t forget God or whatever your spirtual life leads you toward.) The feeling of connectedness is the most important part of the cycle.  You can develop a connected life at any age. You don’t need to have connections with all of the above. In fact, you should guard against having too many.  Think of your points of connection as a garden.  With careful tilling it will grow and thrive, but if you overplant it will suffer.  Creating a connected life takes time, and it requires work to maintain. But if you tend to it regularly, you will find that many of the stresses that afflict other people do not affect you nearly as severely.   Current research reveals that people who live connected lives are not only happier and more joyful most of the time, they are also physically healthier and they live longer.  So I encourage you to start building connections in your life today.

Once you feel connected, you will feel safe enough to go on to step 2.  Before sharing step 2, I’m going to let you think about Step 1 a bit — give it a little time to sink it.  So be sure to check back tomorrow for the next step in the cycle to help you to accentuate the positive in ADHD.

Accentuate the Positive in ADHD Step 2

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about ways you might add connections in your life, it’s time share Step 2, which is to PLAY. In play, you discover your talents and strengths. Play includes any activity in which your brain lights up and you get imaginatively involved. This is where you can find joy for the rest of your life, so take note when it happens. You will not be able to play at everything you do. But when you do find an activity you can play at, an activity where your brain lights up, you have found the gold. The best way to mind the gold in the ADHD brain–or in any brain–is to PLAY.

You can play at anything you do. If you have ADHD, play comes naturally to you. So do it!  Perhaps for you it is in gardening. Or for your child it is in skiing. Or for your spouse it is in tracking stocks.  If you’re willing to be a little silly and let yourself go, you can turn doing your laundry – or anything else, for that matter-into a playful creative activity.

Play is deep. Play changes the world. Play can turn the most mundane of tasks into an activity you lose yourself in. Play is not a silly, superficial activity. By play, I mean creative engagement with whatever it is you are doing. The opposite of play is doing exactly what you are told to do, which is the refuge of people who have attention surplus disorder. For people with ADHD, play should come easily. You just have to get shame, pessimism and negativity out of the way and make sure you’re not so isolated that you get too depressed to play. Once you find an activity in which you can play, it will lead you into step 3.

So today I encourage you spend some time at PLAY — doing what you love to do — whatever it is that lights up your brain.

Please share what constitutes play in your life.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Carpe diem!!!

Accentuate the Positive in ADHD Step 3

Now that you’ve made some connections and found some form of play that you enjoyed, you’re ready for Step 3, which is PRACTICE.

Practice that emerges out of play is practice you want to do. You don’t have to be hounded to do it; you want to do it. Here is where habits of discipline develop that will last for a lifetime. As you practice, you will develop your talents and strengths, which will lead you into Step 4

Accentuate the Positive in ADHD Step 5

Let’s recap the four steps we’ve taken to date to help identify your talents and strengths:

The first step is to CONNECT–with a family member, teacher, coach, mentor, supervisor, lover, friend, etc. Once you feel connected, you will feel safe enough to go to:

step 2, which is to PLAY. In play, you discover your talents and strengths. Play includes any activity in which your brain lights up and you get imaginatively involved. When you find some form of play you like, you do it over and over again;

this is step 3, PRACTICE. As you practice, you get better;

this is step 4, MASTERY.  When you achieve Mastery, other people notice and give you

RECOGNITION, this is step 5.  Recognition not only consolidates the feelings of self-esteem and confidence that mastery engendered, it connects you with the people who recognize and value you, which brings you back to step 1 connect, and deepens the connection.

No matter what your age, you can use this 5 step process to promote your talents and strengths.  Beware, however, of jumping in at step 3. That’s the mistake many parents, teachers, coaches,and managers in the workplace make: they demand practice and offer recognition as the reward. This leads to short-term achievement, but fatigue and burnout in the long run.

For the cycle to run indefinitely and passionately, it must generate its own enthusiasm and energy, not be prodded by external motivators. To do that, the cycle must start in connection and play.

As you can see, these 5 steps naturally generate many of the qualities we so dearly hope people with ADHD will develop: security, enthusiasm, a passion for some activity, disciple, confidence, self-esteem, motivation and moral behavior.

This cycle will develop talents and strengths, as well as naturally provide the desire to achieve – without resorting to fear or nagging as motivational tools.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Send Dr. Hallowell's Blog Posts to My Inbox!

or follow my blog through RSS 2.0 feed or FeedBurner.

©1994 - 2017, Dr. Edward Hallowell and the Hallowell Centers,
All rights reserved. Content may be used only with prior permission.
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com