Category Archives: Brain

The pictures we have; the pictures we need

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation…

Change can be very difficult, and one of the greatest assets of Internal Control Psychology, of which Choice Theory is one, is that it points out so many places in the process of behaving that we can impose some degree of control. We can indirectly change our perceptions, our emotions, and our physiology, and we can directly change our action, our thinking and the pictures in our quality world – the primary blueprints of our happiness.

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Most people are pretty clear about the concept of pictures in our quality world; they are the blueprints our brain uses to create our actual behavior. But what may be less obvious is the fact that if we want to change and flourish and be happy as human beings, we will need to add pictures to our quality world which we may not have yet, and which anyone who works with us will need to help us evolve.

Most people are overloaded with pictures of how they want the world to be – their ideal world. These blueprints are certainly worth having, but are only helpful when there is a chance of getting the world to match the pictures we have. The roots of unhappiness are grounded in situations where the world does not match what “we want,” and it is made even worse if the only choice we have is to keep going back to our ideal world pictures. In general, our ideal world pictures involve background thinking which sounds like this: “Here is the way I would like the world to be, and if it is that way it will mean I will not have to change to be happy.” Our biggest problems, however, involve situations where the world is not the way we want it to be and we are therefore forced to change if we are to have a good opportunity to be happy.

In the entries to follow, I will try to explain both the types and the dimensions of quality world pictures that we need to have if we are to maintain flexibility and resiliency in a world which is obviously not at our beck and call.



Shift Your Bad Mood

Contributed by Denise Daub

8 Ways to Shift a Bad Mood and Feel Better Fast by Nathalie Thompson

Have you ever heard the phrase: “as within, so without”? It has become something of a mantra to me lately because it’s a reminder that whatever is happening outside of me is a direct reflection of what is happening within me, on the inside.

Our thoughts affect our beliefs and expectations, which affect our actions, which, in turn, affect our physical reality. In a way, we create our world through the thoughts we think; our external reality becomes a reflection of our internal landscape.

miserable_kenThis effect works with all of our feelings — good or bad. So when we start finding ourselves feeling down or pessimistic about things, or when something we’ve come across in the media upsets us, it’s really important to head the snowball off and look for ways to shift our focus into a better-feeling place before we get trapped into only being able to see the crappy stuff in life.

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Stinking Thinking

Contributed by Denise Daub

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and seconds later you cannot recall their name? Or maybe you have had the all too common experience of arriving in your garage with little recollection of the journey home. All these everyday common occurences indicate that the average person is spending a large portion of their lives lost in thought.

It’s often been referred to as the monkey mind and many people can probably relate to the analogy of a playful child. The truth of the matter is that your brain loves to play. It is “on” every moment of the day. And if there is nothing entertaining in the outside environment it often resorts to playing indoors.

But what’s it playing with? You might be surprised to know it’s largely negative and useless thoughts. There are seven typical thoughts that commonly capture attention and steal it away from the important things in life.

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When a tree falls…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound? This question has been posed to countless students in Philosophy 101 through the years.

It points us to the distinction between what Dr. Glasser calls the “real world” and the “perceived world”.  Having a “sound” grasp of the difference between these two is a big part of mental health and happiness.

The real world is where the tree falls and generates a moving molecular wave through the air.

When that wave strikes the auditory apparatus of a person it is perceived as a sound.  If there is no person to hear, the wave still happens.  So the question is answered by how we define “sound”.  Is it the wave or the perception of the wave?  This is the way that I suggest we think about the often repeated statement that “perception is reality.”

Let’s say that we agree that what we call “sound” is the perception of the wave moving through the air.  The person does not respond to the sound wave, but to the way that sound wave is interpreted by the brain as a perception.    This is what is “real” to the person.  The recognition of that sensory stimulus as a sound is the reality that enables the person to choose what to do about the sound of a falling tree.

Let’s use another sensory example.


We know that our visual perceptions are an adapted interpretation of what our eye registers.  The lens of the eye follows the laws of optics and inverts the image of what the eye is seeing.   We don’t “see” the inverted image do we?  The wonderful apparatus we carry in our skulls adapts the sensory data to a perception that more closely represents the image in the real world.  We “see” the candle upright as it is.

A perception is what our brain tells us about the information gathered through our senses.  It is an interpretation of the real world.  It is a constructed representation of what the senses pick up.  If we remember that my perception is a different interpreted construction than what your brain has constructed, we might take a step toward overcoming the conflicts that lessen our mental health and happiness.  It’s good to understand that many of these conflicts arise from assuming that we all experience the world in the same way.

Pathways to Mental Health & Happiness: Curiosity, Learning and Discovering

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

These days there is much talk and attention being given to brain science, health and growth. It wasn’t all that long ago that the world believed your brain never repaired or regenerated itself. We now know this is not true. Once our brain is damaged, it is possible for new and altered pathways to develop. Now the concepts of a changing and growing brain are better understood. We are living during a time of considered research and understanding of what is actually happening in our brains.

Words like Human Brain Plasticity and Brain Activity and Connectivity  are not only being talked about and studied, there are now products to be purchase to help keep your brain in good working order and at optimal shape and conditioning.

Not only can you purchase a program or game to support brain health and Mental Health & Happiness, you can also rely on your own inherent genetic instruction and achieve the same thing. There is growing research to support Dr. Glasser’ idea that curiosity, learning and discovering are examples of our basic need for fun! Glasser stated that when we are having fun we are learning and when we are learning we are having fun. Now there is research supporting a positive brain state associated with learning.

In order to verify this thought for yourself, think back to something that your have learned, or are  learning now. I wouldn’t use the example of learning algebra in school unless algebra is something you wanted to learn. But it might be learning a musical instrument, a sport, a different language, photography, painting, astronomy, riding a unicycle or juggling. Were you enjoying yourself, playing and having fun while you were learning? Even though it may have taken time, concentration and perseverance, you also experienced joy, satisfaction and happiness. If this was not the case for you, then it’s time you started learning something that provokes your curiosity.

Here is one more example from my own life. In a recent conversation I had with my 4-year old grandson, I was once again talking with him about who my son is and how he’s related to Malakai? Who is another of my sons who is Malakai’s uncle? Figuring out who is who in a family via the son, daughter, mother, father and second cousin twice removed is a sophisticated concept. Who is my son? How is he related to you? I asked. Suddenly there was a bright smile and a knowing gleam in his eye. That’s my Dad he said to me with great satisfaction and pleasure. That was learning and discovery. And that contributed to his Mental Health & Happiness.

If you want to create a new pathway for your own Mental Health & Happiness, pursue your curiosity by learning and discovering something new today!