Category Archives: Courage

New Pictures and New Developments

by Mona Dunkin

We think in pictures or symbols. If we don’t get the picture we don’t get the concept.

If I mention a car, your mind sees a car of some sort, even if it’s fuzzy. The longer we explore that subject, the clearer your mind-picture comes into focus.  More than likely, your own car would be your familiar point of reference or perhaps your dream car.

Unknowingly, we associate new stuff with familiar stuff. We also, unknowingly, self-assess whether to like, dislike or simply store it in our vast mind/body warehouse as additional information. For later recall.

Everything is created twice; first in the mind and then in reality. Your computer runs by an operating system and so does the mind. If you don’t like a TV program, you don’t even try to change the screen. Why not? The TV operating system is pre-programmed to bring in that program on that frequency.

Here is where reality sets in.  You cannot change what you do not have control over. You do not have control over the programming slated for that channel but you do have control over changing the channel. To change the picture on the TV screen you change the channel to another frequency.

Change is an Inside Job. Truth be told, we have limited ability to change anything outside our immediate scope. Goodness! It’s hard enough to change something within our self (i.e. attitudes, habits, prejudices).  When we work on self we have something we can work with. When working on someone or something outside our selves – especially without forethought and training – we may be jousting at windmills. Don Quixote’s selective vision of the real world contributed to his unhappy relationships and the fall from the rotor blade certainly curtailed his health.

Will Power = WALL. Even if you are using every ounce of will power that you can muster to change personal habits, attitudes or – alas – other people, it doesn’t compute. Why? Because the old operating system still has chocolate cake as the focal point.  You fall off the wagon and don’t understand why.

Adjust your mind-pictures and grow into them. This simple step promotes self from employee to Management.  From lackey to Taking Charge of Your Life™. And that is power. It’s real power because it’s empowering.  Once the light comes on, it is like a rogue grass seed pushing up through concrete to grow, blossom and bloom. That seed idea that seemed so impossible takes root and produces amazing results.

Yeah But!  I hear you; it’s the I-agree-but-I-don’t-agree-or-I-don’t-think-I-can.  Okay, here’s how:

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Stop whatever thought processes you have going through your head and – just for a minute – experience a different sort of reality. Get out of your head nonsense into a beautiful place. Through loving imagination, tune your TV-mind to your Discovery Channel. Tune in to pictures of adventures that you would love doing or being or creating. Whet an internal mental appetite for those things. Act on those new aptitudes and the old picture begins to fade as you become the new you.  You become energized by what you act like and feel like and look like and what life tastes like as you grow into the person living your dream.

What you think is what you become.  Picture it.

The Relationship that Keeps on Giving

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

My relationship with death has been most interesting in the fact that is has uncovered one of the great paradoxes of life: the more you think about dying, the more you think about living. Death is what gives life its significance. If we lived forever, we would never have to answer the important questions about “What do we want our life to mean?” Or “Am I proud of the person I am becoming?” or “Am I living the life I want to live or have I copped out and given into fear and inertia?” The fact that we are going to die is the great motivator of these questions.

I remember one question that was asked of me was, “If you knew you were going to die in a week, who would you call, what would you say, and what are you waiting for?” That question incited several phone calls, mostly to make sure that certain people knew I loved and appreciated them, and also persuaded me to keep that list current in case anything happened?

canstockphoto14643549Thinking about dying helped me realize the importance of my saying “I love you” as the last words my wife and kids heard from me every day before I left for work. I had decided that if something happened to me that day, I wanted to make sure that my kids could say that the last words they heard from their father were “I love you,” not something like “Make sure to clean up your room” or “Adam, didn’t I tell you to get your damn bike out of the driveway?” My looking at my own death helped me make that decision.

My partnership with death has been a motivator in my creating a notebook which sits on my desk and is entitled, ”The Journey Continues: When I Die” which contains everything my kids would need to make sense of my estate if I died suddenly. Many people make books like these in the very last years of their life (although many think they will get to it and never do). I have had that book ready for my for 20 years; I count it as a gift to them that if I had died unexpectedly, that they would have some reasonable tasks to perform rather than the ungodly mess that many people leave to their kids.

Death is a friend who keeps asking, “Ok, what do you really want to do and when are you going to do it? Death is a friend who keeps us honest. Death is the final recovery from the great American addiction: “Just keeping doing what you’re doing; you can get away with it!” With Death, we can’t get away with it.

Many years ago I decided I wanted Death to be my friend rather than my enemy or adversary. I can honestly say that nothing in my life has ever been made worse by that decision, and that overall, my life has been much richer and more significant because of that relationship. We all have that choice.

“If you were sure something important, significant and life-changing were going to happen to you in the future, would you want to know more about how you might have it become an opportunity rather than a disaster?”

“If you knew you were going to die in a week, who would you call, what would you say, and what are you waiting for?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trapped In Your Past?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

The past is a funny thing. If it werent for our past, none of us would be who we are today. At the same time, we have no ability to change the past. Dont believe me? Try and change what you had for lunch yesterday. You might decide to change what youre going to have for lunch today based on your lunch experience of yesterday but no matter how hard you try, you cannot change what you ate yesterday. 

The past is only what you choose to remember if you even choose to remember it. And even when you choose to remember it, can you be sure your memory is correct and accurate? Ever go back to the home where you were raised and take a look at that big hill you use to sled down as a child? Ever been surprised at how little that big hill actually is? 

For some people, the act of remembering and memories seems to be a mysterious, lost category in their brains. There are more than a few people who complain that they have no memories from their childhood. For some of these people, they are convinced this indicates sad, bad and harmful experiences they are trying to repress or suppress (leftover legacy of Freudian thinking). 

canstockphoto13026221How can you know what you dont know? Your brain may very well be acting to protect you from painful memories. Its also possible your brain is busy helping you with more important things in the here and now rather than sorting through memories from your past. 

Today can be the day to change how you cultivate your relationship with your past to benefit your Mental Health & Happiness. Rather than focusing your thoughts on the painful, unhappy, hurtful experiences of yesterday, why not reflect on memories or stories that delight, inspire or lift your spirits?

Were you told stories from your past that reveal your unique qualities? In what ways were you special? Who were the people who found you amazing and worth celebrating? How did they do it? In what ways did the person you were in your past positively contribute to the person you are today? 

Amazingly humans have the unique ability to choose their thoughts. Perhaps you take this for granted because you can easily stop thinking about todays weather and begin thinking about your dinner menu or your vacation plans, or the color blue, or your age, or you painful knee. But make no mistake. This is your own personal magic!

If you find yourself feeling trapped in your painful past memories, change your thoughts and change your Mental Health & Happiness. You possess this magical power.

Going Beyond Our Beliefs

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.;  Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

My whole life I have been limited by my own imagination. I mistakenly believed that what I could imagine was as good as it could get. I was convinced that my mind was showing me a future which was reality, not aware at all that it was my personal fantasy often based years of limited thinking and fear-based projection.

Not really understanding that has hindered me continually. When I think about a change in my life or aspiring to be more honest or thoughtful or loving, I need to realize that what I envision may have very little to do with the actual possibility of who I might become. If I let go of my own expectations and both trust the process and seek the advice of people who have what I want, I am much more likely to go beyond my expectations than if I assume they are real and finite.

This has played itself out in what I consider to be my personal mantra:  “ Show Up, Pay Attention, Tell the Truth and Release the Outcome.” Releasing the outcome is crucial in the process of personal change or we get to a place where we don’t see what is “there,” we only see what we expect to be “there.”

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A friend of mine has been in AA for years, and as we talked about this idea, he related the story of a member he respected who always said, “If you keep coming to AA, your life will be more beautiful than you can imagine. And if you don’t believe that, please believe that I believe that.” He told me that speaker gave him something to think about, and allowed him to piggy-back on that member’s faith in ways he was not yet able to do himself. He went on to say that he had listened to speakers who talked about their connection with a higher power in ways he never could have imagined. They helped him break out of his rigid “religion-based” view of a higher power and break open a new “spiritual” view that he was able to work with and today is the foundation of his life.

I continue to look for people who can help me dream beyond my own dreams.  At some level, I need to remember that “If you want to be a man you need to see a man,” or “If I want to be loving, I need to see loving.” There are so many people who don’t realize that their greatest gift to the world is just showing up and being themselves; just showing up and being willing to live life in their own unique way. By seeing lives that surpass our own in areas in which we want to excel emotionally , we are all able to forge new awarenesses of the people we might become.

Thanks you to those of you who showed me the kind of courage I never thought existed; to those of you who showed me the faith I never believed attainable; and to those of you who showed me the kind of honesty I didn’t think was possible in the real world. When I see these things, I can no longer pretend they are simply ideals with no foundation. I see they are real and I am challenged and drawn toward those aspirations myself.

My AA friend said it his own way: “I have become someone I never thought I could because I saw people in real life who were sober the way I want to be sober. “It’s simple, he said. “If you want to be sober, you have to see sober.”

 

 

“But I got an emptiness deep inside and I’ve tried but it won’t let me go…”

Dr. Ken Larsen

I believe that happiness is not something we can seek for itself.  Dr. Glasser and Mike Rice (a friend who is a Choice Theory Addiction Counselor)  have told us that we can seek pleasure for itself, because pleasure can be a solitary pursuit.  Happiness is more of a byproduct of a life lived in caring relationships with others.  Within those relationships we are getting a large portion of our needs met for love and belonging, for fun, for freedom and for a sense of self efficacy or power.  For most of us, even if our lives are reasonably happy, there is still a level of the imperfect in our happiness.  There is often a small emptiness somewhere inside that is hungry for something that we may not even be able to name or identify.

questionThis hole in us may be a hunger for more intimacy in a relationship, a spiritual hunger, or that unexplained existential loneliness that haunts us, even when we are with those we love.

I think the Serenity Prayer offers an appropriate response to this hole inside us.  “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have found that if I strive and strain to fill the hole, to find the answer to the question raised by that empty space, it becomes more elusive and slippery.  Struggling to meet an unmet need that is beyond our grasp simply drives it further away.  For example, if I am striving to earn the affection and approval from someone who has withheld it, this will just widen the gap, and increase the distance between us.

It is far better for mental health to “accept the things I cannot change” and move on to pursue the other good things in life.  Many have found that in the process of letting go, the frustration and anxiety that are associated with that unmet need subsides and may even go away.   The interesting and paradoxical experience of many is that sometimes letting it go is what allows what is wanted and needed to gently come in to fill the hole without any strident effort. 

I believe that a perfect state of mental health and happiness is beyond our grasp.  I also believe that we can all make progress in this pursuit, even though the price for perfection is prohibitive.

https://youtu.be/sxDyXK93o6g

 

Run from the fire or reach for the stars

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

What best describes you?  Do you run from the fire or reach for the stars?

When you spend your time running from the fire the energy propelling you is sourced from fear and pain. You are attempting to avoid getting burned, or alleviate the pain and fear of more pain. In order to keep going on this path you need to keep “re-fearing” yourself by reminding yourself of what can and may happen. It is stress, fear, and a whole lot of negative energy detracting from your Mental Health & Happiness that’s propelling your action.

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When you reach for the stars the energy propelling you comes from inspiration. This means you’ve identified what you really want, what your quality world picture or pictures are. You are driven with inspired energy. This doesn’t mean life is stress free but it does mean the energy is uplifting and hopeful, filled with possibilities of dreams coming true. This energy keeps you going, enhancing your Mental Health & Happiness.

Some say when setting your goals you should ask yourself if your goal is realistic. Hmm, seems like that question contains not only realism but also doubt and potential fears.

Imagine if Columbus had asked himself if his dream of finding a shorter sea path to the Orient was realistic. Imagine what Martin Luther King might have done differently if he had asked if his dream was realistic. Imagine what might have happened if Rosa Parks asked if sitting in the white section of the bus was a realistic or good idea. Had any one of these people been driven by their fear instead of their dream to reach for the stars our world would be very different.

Imagine how your life could change if you reached for your star, inspired by what you want rather than what is realistic. If you are willing to let dreams inspire you rather than relying on an internal energy to avoid fear, not only will your Mental Health & Happiness improve, you just might change the world too.

Finding Your Passion

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. — Joseph Campbell

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. —  Harriet Tubman

Ever read these kinds of quotes before? Does it help you feel inspired, fired up and ready to go out into the world and take your next step to conquer your fears and realize your daydream2dream? Or do you feel annoyed and irritated instead? Do you wonder what your dreams and passions are? How are you supposed to follow your bliss when you don’t even know what that is?

Here are a couple of stories that just might help improve your Mental Health & Happiness as you consider or reconsider your bliss, passion and dreams.

Once upon a time I started a college program where I was able to create my own course of study. I knew I needed the program to be interdisciplinary. And I knew some of the academic disciplines I was already interested in. But what else?

Following the direction of a well seasoned college professor, I gathered together all of my purchased books as well as borrowed books and articles (from the library and friends). I discovered something amazing! There, right before my eyes, were two very clear categories of subjects I had been studying on my own, driven by my own interest and curiosity: women’s studies and religion. I had unearthed some of my hidden curiosities, passions, and desires!

Once upon a time in another person’s life, my friend went on a great European summer adventure with his old and reliable camera in hand. His great adventure was filled with learning, fun and picture taking. He could hardly wait to return to the states in early September to develop all of the wonderful pictures he had taken of all of the beautiful women he saw in each new country and city.

Imagine his surprise when upon developing all of his many photographs he saw building, after ruin, after architectural angle and  points of interest. He was completely surprised by his own inner knower that led him to his life’s work. He is now a successful architectural photographer!

Want to start following your own bliss and passion? If you already know your driving dream then get going or keep going.

 There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. — Nelson Mandela

And if you are one of the many people whose passion, bliss and dreams are a mystery to you, then start your detective work now. Gather your books, pictures, articles, saved quotes, mementos, souvenirs, collections and any other clues you can about who you are, what you care about, what lights you on fire and sets your heart soaring. With these discoveries you too can start creating the life that is all you are capable of living. And your Mental Health & Happiness will hold steady at a bliss-filled level.                                              

It may be real, but is it true?

Dr. Ken Larsen

Centuries ago the prevailing view was that the earth was the center of the universe.  This was a real belief and it dominated the thinking of scholars and the church.

boatIt was also largely held that the earth was flat and that to go too far, was to fall off the edge.

Through the ages certain beliefs have directed our thinking and influenced our behavior.  All of those beliefs were real.  Many of those beliefs were not true.

Copernicus and Galileo did a little investigating to verify the then established “truth” that the earth was the center of the universe. We know what happened next.  It nearly cost Galileo his life to dare to point out the truth that the earth was NOT the center of the universe.  Christopher Columbus dared to defy the prevailing “truth” that to sail too far, was to fall off the edge of the world.

As I think about human history, I wonder how many of those real beliefs that are not true remain in our collective thinkingWe know that our beliefs shape our thinking which in turn affects our behavior which further impacts our relationships with our world and the people in it.

I’m thinking in particular about those beliefs that separate us as humans and which ultimately have an impact on our mental health and happiness by keeping us separate and apart from one another.

Through our evolution we were bonded to our tribal groupings, which fostered a “them” and “us” outlook.  “They” were the potential danger to us and we needed to separate from and guard ourselves against them.

For many of us our tribal connections are history, yet our conditioned beliefs about “them and us” often remain, causing a residual prevailing suspicion that leads to conflict, division and strife.

We see this in many of our interpersonal relationships, where some of us look at others of us and see “them” rather than recognizing the deeper level of our connections to one another.  This separation makes it easy to blame “them” for our problems, tragically leading to animosity and violence against “them”.  Of course “they” have similar beliefs about us.  And the whole thing just keeps on keeping on.

Can we realize that the world is divided by those who think they are right?  Can we further realize that all this “being right” ultimately leads to some big “wrongs” that continue to feed the hatred and violence that have afflicted our species for far too long?

I believe the collective angst that hangs over us is one of the major obstacles to a more complete experience of mental health and happiness.  The international tensions and conflicts and wars have been a dark cloud hovering over us, keeping us in a constant state of uncertainty.

What can we do?  One suggestion is to begin a process of investigating those beliefs that bring us into conflict with one another.  Can we be honest enough to realize that many of those beliefs have been handed down to us?  Can we be courageous enough to aggressively ask ourselves “is this true?”

If we start with those things that are interfering with our mental health and happiness in our personal relationships, we can establish a foothold in progress.  We can do this by asking ourselves in all our relationships, “is what I am doing or about to do bringing us closer together or driving us further apart?” At that point we can make a choice to make a difference.

 

 

 

 

Accept what is

by Dr. Nancy Buck

One of the biggest causes of mental upset and unhappiness comes from our own making. Every time we resist what is actually happening right now in real life we make our own distress and mental discomfort.

You wake up to discover that it is a rainy day. You were hoping for a sunny day to enjoy your morning walk. Boy that is annoying! You’re really trying to get into the habit of getting outside everyday to walk and quiet  your mind. And now you can’t go!

What a perfect evening you had planned. You and a friend were going to have a lovely meal together then go see a movie. You were really looking forward to this. But your friend calls to cancel at the last minute. Now what? You’re fun evening is destroyed. Can you ever rely on this friend to come through?

Oh my gosh. You realize you’re getting sick – again! How many colds does that make for you since the fall? Does your body ever cooperate? You’re really being conscientious, taking special care of your diet, your exercise, your work out routines. And still you keep getting sick.

These are just a few examples of what may happen when what we get is very different from what we want. Upset, frustration, anger and disappointment are not unusual feelings.

choosehappyBut remaining in this same emotional spot long after the disappointment is over then becomes a choice. And with that choice comes the persistence in resisting what is actually happening now. Ever heard the expression “What you resist persists?”

The longer we hold on to our upset, disappointment and frustration about reality not turning into what we planned and wanted the longer we will continue to feel upset, disappointed and frustrated.

What can you do instead? Accept what is.

How? Get curious and see if you can discover the “silver lining” in the new reality of what is.

Need better instructions to follow this idea? Watch the movie Silver Linings Playbook. The whole movie is about our hero learning to make the best he can from some unhappy, disappointing changes and challenges in his life. Once he begins to accept what is actually happening now in his life, he discovers unexpected silver linings!

Want to improve your mental health and happiness? Start looking for your silver linings in your disappointments. When you are open to the possibilities you are more likely to discover unexpected treasures.

Choose FEAR or Love

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

choicesRight now, at this very moment I am standing at a crossroads. As I look in one direction I see doom, peril and potential ruination. In the other direction I see nothing. It’s as if vaseline is over my eyes and I cannot see anything except blurry blobs of ill defined shapes and sizes.

I blame myself for being in this predicament. If I had done a better job of paying closer attention perhaps I could have taken steps to avoid arriving at this particular spot in my life’s journey.

Hold on though. I am not a careless person. Each decision I’ve made along the way was based on doing the best I could at the time with the information that I had. Hmm . . .

I’m discovering that too frequently I blame myself for circumstances, events and outcomes that were not dependent only on my actions or inactions. If blaming is among the deadly habits that contribute to the deterioration and destruction of relationships, how does my blaming myself help me? Hmm . . .

Am I willing to dig a little deeper? Instead of going to self-blame can I better understand my frustration, anger and confusion?

Upon further reflection and some helpful meditative reading I discover that I’m full of fear! If I wasn’t afraid would I be stuck at the crossroads?

Here are some discoveries that have helped me:

FEAR = thinking + time. Decrease either and fear disappears

                                    F.E.A.R. – FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUNor

                                                     FORGET EVERYTHING AND RISE

                                                                                    (Thank you Dave Romanelli for this idea

Happy is the new Healthy, 2014)

What if I face my crossroads, my potential peril, doom or ruination with love instead of fear? Now what?

Yes! Yes! Yes! The choice of direction is clear even though the clarity has not eliminated the blurred and unclear road before me. With love as the guiding light and my total behavior of loving in every step I am propelled forward with confidence and competence.

I choose LOVE and with that choice my Mental Health & Happiness improves. Even though the present “bump in the road” felt more like an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain, with each loving step I am able to continue moving forward.

Are there areas in your life where you’re choosing fear instead of love?