Category Archives: Depression

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

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


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

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The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

Mother’s Day Pain

By Kim Olver (originally posted May 10, 2014)

Today I want to acknowledge the people who may be in pain on Mother’s Day and in all the days and hype leading up to it. Who may those people be?

  1. A mother whose child has died
  2. A person whose mother has passed away
  3. A mother who has put their child up for adoption
  4. A child whose been adopted
  5. A child living in foster care
  6. A woman with a regretted abortion
  7. A woman who has suffered a miscarriage
  8. A mother and child separated by pride and misunderstanding
  9. Anyone else I may have left out
  10. Couples who are infertile

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Experiencing emotional pain is never easy but it is made even more difficult when the world around you is celebrating while you are feeling so sad. Those who have their mothers and their children to celebrate with will be happy and pampered on Mother’s Day. It is a special day set aside to honor the woman who gave birth to us.

If you are a mother without her child on Mother’s Day, you have some choices to make. You can embrace your feelings of grief and sadness and simply allow yourself to experience the loss. You can put a smile on your face, pretending everything is all right when inside you know it isn’t. You can use distraction to busy yourself so you are focused on other things. You can find a way to be grateful for the experience of motherhood, with all its ups and downs, and find the gifts, lessons and opportunities in the experience. Or you can create a new celebration of your own for this day . . . something meaningful to you.

If you are child without your mother on Mother’s Day, you have similar choices. You can embrace your feelings of grief, loss and sadness and just be in that space. You can pretend all is well when you know it isn’t. You can distract yourself with other things, trying not to think about her. You can find a way to be grateful for the mother you had, for better or for worse. She gave you life and taught you things . . . some you will embrace, others you will never repeat but all lessons nonetheless. Or you can find something else to celebrate on this day.

Whatever you do on Mother’s Day, recognize the choices you have and choose the one that serves you best. The world recognizes mothers on this day and your focus may need to be on how to take care of yourself today. You are just as valuable and important as all the mothers and children who will be happy today. Choose well.

How do you mend a broken heart?

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

Like, perhaps, many of you . . . I’ve had my share of broken hearted relationships going as far back as my teenage youth.  Music had always been a major part of my life and I would tend to express my unhappiness by finding and relating to the heartbroken lyrics and music of many song writers and lyricists who could express their unhappiness in words and music far better than I.

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I recall listening to these songs over and over, wallowing in my own despair . . . not willing to let go . . . crying, hoping, and praying that each situation might magically turn itself around and we would find ourselves together again in a state of bliss and happiness.  My favorite songs that I would choose to play as a musician were ballads . . . songs of unrequited love and broken hearts.  I loved the music of such writers of Sammy Cohn and Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, Matt Dennis, and many, many more.  Recording artists such as Sinatra, Ella, Sarah, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, et al. were m playlist.  I must have appeared to be happy being unhappy.

These were not happy times by any means.  The words and music were like prayers and I recall Father Joseph Martin having said, “The best prayers you ever said were when you were at the bottom of the pit. “

But not all of these artists and song writers wrote only sad songs.  In fact, they wrote and sang more happy songs than they did mournful songs.  And isn’t this the way of the world?  In time, everything changes and we eventually put on a happy face.

When does unhappiness turn into happiness?  . . . whenever one finally becomes tired of feeling miserable.  It happens after weeks, months, or perhaps even years, when we come to terms and accept the reality of a given situation and that there is nothing we can do other than to move on with our life.  As Dr. Glasser reminds us, one of the 3 reasons why people choose to depress is because they know there is something they need to do and they a.) Don’t want to do it, or b.) Don’t know how to do it.  In situations of broken hearts, “a.)” is the primary component.

Letting go of what cannot be controlled eventually comes to those of us who have been mourning the loss of a loved one . . .by breakups, divorce, and even death.  Acceptance.  Making real of what is and not how we want things to be.  Using your own experiences, you will realize that it wasn’t until you accepted the reality of the situation and that there was nothing you could do to change it that you began to move on with your life and feel better.  Looking back on your past lost loves, I would be willing to wager that you can now do so feeling a bit of gratitude for having known them, even if for a little while; for the experience and lesson you may have learned, for the things they may have taught you, and when times were filled with passion and happiness.  I would even venture to say that as you read these words, a slight smile may appear as you recall those times with those you lost long ago.

I still listen to the love songs of my favorite song writers and lyricists. I appreciate a well-written and performed ballad.  The difference now is that I appreciate them for their beauty, creativity, and sensitivity . . . knowing that the creators, too, had the same broken hearts that I have experienced .  . . to be able to express it in words and music.  The songs sometime bring back memories of my lost loves and sometimes they don’t.  And when they do, and after all is said and done . . . I look back on them and realize they were all good.  For even in bad experiences, there is good to be found.  In retrospect, you may, perhaps, even feel fortunate that they did end when they did.

The only two choices we have to overcome any unhappiness is:

  1. Change what you want and/or
  2. Change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.

There are no other options other than to feel miserable until you do so.

Neutral

By Gloria Smith Cisse, LPC, LMSW, CTRTC

Happiness is not simply the absence of sadness.   Happiness is much more.  It is a place of peace, comfort, quiet, beauty, and contentment.  It seems the thing we are always chasing is a kind of excitement that comes from getting something that we felt we have always wanted or needed.  This can be synonymous with drug addiction or thrill seeking.  I have never really enjoyed roller coasters and I don’t believe emotional roller coasters are any different.

A few days ago while I was in my car driving from one work site to the next, I thought about happiness.  Questions like: What is happiness for me?,  Am I happy right now?, and How would people know I am happy? danced around in my mind.  It occurred to me that I had not been “happy” in some time.  It also occurred to me that I was also not sad.  About a week before Thanksgiving 2015, I lost my mother.  I should be sad, right?

Some of my sisters and I communicate with each other on an almost daily basis. It feels like they are having a much harder time adjusting to life after our mother’s death than I am.  I was thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me because I was not as sad as they appeared to be.  I had made a choice to not depress.  I had not told them that, I don’t know if they would have understood.  I made the choice years ago because I had already spent too many years of my life being “clinically depressed.”

I have made a choice to get off the happiness – sadness roller coaster.  I can enjoy the happiness more because I experienced, understand, and appreciate the sadness.  I have learned to respect and give sadness its time because I know that it does not last forever.   As a matter of fact, I choose to not depress.

veronica-balanceSince that night alone in my car, I have decided that neutral, a place of balance, peace, contentment, and weightlessness, is a great place to be. It takes effort to remain balanced.  Anyone who has ever tried yoga will tell you, it’s hard!   I am not chasing happiness.  The mental picture I have is one coasting at my own pace and being surrounded by the things and people I enjoy.  This does not mean that I will avoid happiness.  It means that for now I will do my life and enjoy the peace that comes from simply doing my life.   I will choose the amount of time I spend sad.  I will not live on an emotional roller coaster.

I prefer to think of it as living like a “weeble wobble.”  Some of you may remember, “weebles; wobble but the don’t fall down.”  I can wobble from side to side but I will not remain in any one place too long,  except neutral…smile!

 

Lonely Holidays

By Dr. Ken Larsen

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray  1751.  

For me this verse struck me with sadness from the very first time I heard it.  As life has unfolded I see evidence of the many unseen flowers trapped in the loneliness of our culture.

We all know those who are lonely, most of us have been there ourselves.  When I’m in that place I find mental health and happiness more elusive.

kid_catI think the holiday season afflicts many of us as we look to the fabricated images of people enjoying the holiday season and then realizing that our own lives don’t often match those fabrications.

I recently had some major surgery and was feeling lonely and a bit sad because of the forced inactivity of recovery.   Then the phone rang.  It was a call from a friend who is a media personality in her part of the world.  What touched me and actually sent a jolt of joy through me is that she took the time to call and tell me she was thinking of me.  This simple act of friendship and kindness changed the color of my day from blue to rosy red.

helpinghands2A call, a note, a smile,  a friendly touch are all very welcome to us when we are feeling unseen and out of touch.  Let’s reach out and brighten the day of someone we know or someone we don’t know to give them the boost they may need to reconnect with their mental health and happiness.

 

Stigma? What stigma?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Happiness is the highest form of health. — Dalai Llama

Once upon a time there was a belief that people with mental illness were looked down upon, seen as having character flaws and an willingness to work hard enough to fit in and get along. So the powers that be (who are those people?) decided that there was a big stigma for people suffering with mental illness and that the stigma prevented people from getting the help that they needed. These folks considered what could be done to eliminate this stigma. The hope was that making a change could mean that more people might be more willing to get needed help.

How could this be accomplished?

Change the name of mental illness to mental health!

Yes, that’s right. The depth of the solution was simply to change the words used to describe the “condition.” What happened is that the words mental health are now used to describe mental illness or mental disturbance. AND there is still a very large stigma attached with these words: mental health.

canstockphoto13026221Mental health is now understood to mean mental illness and mental disturbance. People are still seriously slow, reluctant or completely refuse to get the help they so sorely need. Associating the words “mental health problems” with the many mass shootings does not help either.

There are some serious aspects to the complex issues regarding mental illness needing to be addressed not the least of which is stigma. The  entire “science” of mental illness is seriously questionable. (Want to understand this more? Please refer to the extensive research and study  in the books by Terry Lynch and Robert Whitaker.*) The National Institute of Mental Health – please read this as The National Institute of Mental Illness since what is described on their website is a wide range of mental illnesses, and nothing about health – has finally acknowledge that there is no “chemical imbalances in the brain” for those suffering from mental illness. Brain chemical imbalance was a false claim started by drug companies as a marketing ploy — and sadly a very successful campaign.

The irony is that present times insist on evidence based practices. And yet the preponderance of research, done by the psychiatric community and drug companies themselves point to the evidence that medication has temporary, short term positive results ending with long term disasters for people’s lives. (Again please refer to the books cited at the end of this article. Rick Hansen made note of this during his recent interview on Mental Health & Happiness 2015 Summit).

Changing attitudes, beliefs, and stigma about anything is not an easy process. Making these kinds of changes for mental illness is no exception. Much more needs to be done rather than the simple solution of changing a name. (The recent upgrade for mental health is the change to call it behavioral health.) Changes that include honest representation of what is known and not known about mental illness would help. Sharing honest information about the short term and long term effects of medication would also help.

And there is one more action that each one of us can take. Stop using mental health or behavioral health when what you mean is mental illness and mental disturbance. Making the term mental health interchangeable with mental illness has done nothing to eliminate stigma. But if we all start using the term Mental Health & Happiness to mean just that perhaps people suffering with mental illness and mental disturbance will have a goal to aim for.

As the Dalai Llama tells us Happiness is the highest from of health.

*Depression Delusion, Volume one: The myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance, Terry Lynch

Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker

Mad in America, Robert Whitaker

A Day for Yoga

Contributed by Denise Daub

yogagirl_transpYoga goes a long way in increasing mental health and happiness.  Yoga has been shown to increase social well being though a sense of belonging to others and improve symptoms of depression, hyperactivity, attention deficit and sleep disorders.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/yoga-mental-health-sleep-depression-adhd-schizophrenia_n_2434143.html

See what a day of Yoga looked like around the world on International Day of Yoga, June 21st.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/international-day-of-yoga-photos-around-the-world_n_7637870.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

 

Creativity & Madness

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The 1960 movie, “The Magnificent Seven” was a box office hit staring Yul Brynner, playing the role of Chris Adams, and Steve McQueen, playing the role of Vin Tanner.  In one of the scenes, actor Eli Wallach, playing the role of Calvera, a Mexican bandit who was terrorizing a Mexican town’s inhabitants, asked Steve McQueen:

Calvera: What I don’t understand is why a man like you took the job (freeing the town) in the first place, hmm? Why, huh?
Chris: I wonder myself.
Calvera: No, come on, come on, tell me why.
Vin: It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, “Why?”
Calvera: And?
Vin: He said, “It seemed to be a good idea at the time.”

How many times have you found yourself having done something that afterwards you asked yourself, “Why the hell did I do that?”  Looking back on it, you are amazed that you would have chosen to have done such a thing.  Your thoughts might be:  “Boy, was THAT ever stupid,” or “I can’t believe I did that.”

I recall a time many years ago when I dove head first into a water fountain in the town’s roundabout while wearing a 3 piece suit.  I wasn’t in conflict or frustrated at the time.  I was merely under the influence.  Alcohol can make one really stupid. After landing on my head and sitting in a lot of water with blood running down my face, I never once thought it was a good idea at the time.  I just always wanted to do that after years of driving around that fountain for years.  However, I do recall thinking to myself after I did it, “What a (blanking) dumb thing to do.”But that’s not the kind of dumb choices I wish to describe.

I’m referring to the times when you were under extreme duress and felt like you had no place to turn.  A few examples might be:  Going through a divorce or breakup; losing a job with no prospects for work due to your age; the death of a child or some other loved one; feeling you can’t please someone who is putting demands or expectations on you; someone who is behaving in a way in which you disapprove; someone dear to you who is nagging, complaining, blaming, criticizing, threatening, punishing, or even bribing you to get you to do something they wanted you to do that you didn’t want to do or didn’t know how to do it.

The reason why you may have ever done something “crazy” was because, at the time, it seemed like a good idea.  When faced with a particular situation in which you have no prior experience, and after all your efforts to resolve it with all of the tools you have learned to use in the past have failed, you get creative. . .  you devise new ways to resolve your unhappiness that you have never used before.  Your unhappiness may be so frustrating that any new idea that you devise, regardless of how insensible it may be, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Everything you had tried, so far, was unsuccessful in making your perceived unhappy situation match the happy image of what you wanted in your Quality World.

When we run out of choices, we create new choices.  

Many times, we look back on those choices and say, “That was a really dumb thing to do.”  But at the time, in your frustration, it made perfectly good sense.  You had to try it.  You never thought of it before.   Maybe, just maybe, it would work.  Then to make it even worse when it failed, someone says to you, “Just what the hell were you thinking?” canstockphoto0527001

Being too embarrassed to admit to our perceived stupidity, we reply, “Sheesh.  I don’t know.  I must have been out of my mind,” to which the other person is more than happy to agree.  But now, we have an excuse.  We were temporarily out of our right mind and not stupid.

I am often asked, “what about those people who keep doing crazy things over and over, like Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, anxiety, depression, schizophrenic behaviors of hearing and seeing things that aren’t there?”  People do what works to ease their unhappiness, in some way or another, or they wouldn’t do them.  You just don’t see the how or the why of it.

These behaviors serve to ease their frustrations, even just a little bit, because they have learned that if they didn’t do them, their unhappiness and frustration would be much more intense than it is. Their seemingly crazy behaviors are the result of their creativity to find something that works.  All they know is that when they do them, they feel better than when they don’t do them.  Whatever their unhappiness or frustration is, it is something that is occurring right now, in this present time.  And if it has been a long term pattern of behavior, it will be found to have roots in an unsatisfying relationship with someone important to them.  Very few situations arise in our lives that lead to depression or anger that don’t involve conflict with someone important in our lives (including conflict with ourselves).

Remember your state of mind when you chose to do something that seemed like a good idea at the time that now, in retrospect, was totally out of character for you to have done?  More than likely, your frustration at that time didn’t last for any long term of several months or more and you got your senses back.  But think about the person whose frustration has been an ongoing for many months or perhaps years.  The behaviors that you see as mental illness in others are no different than the behavior you exhibited during your own frustration.  The only difference is that you may have found a more socially acceptable way to deal with it than they have.  While you may not hear voices, hallucinate, or shoot people, you may be depressing, anxieting, obsessing, bipolarizing, and/or resorting to drugs, alcohol, indiscriminant sex, gambling, or excessive spending.

Regardless of the behavior, it is still the result of a person’s creativity to deal with unhappiness and frustration of trying to control things that are beyond their control.  It will mostly be the result of an unsatisfying relationship with an important person in their life. When someone fails time after time to get their happiness needs met, they discover or create the first behavior that affords them some modicum of relief.

Once a person comes to the reality that there is nothing they can do to change another person and they eventually accept their situation as “it is what it is,” and by no longer trying to get what they can’t make happen; by no longer wanting what it is that they have been striving to make happen will they no longer have a need to rely on the behaviors they have developed to ease their frustration and unhappiness.

Who was/is the person with whom you were/are not having the relationship that you wanted to have when you jumped into the cactus patch?  You weren’t (aren’t) mentally ill.  You were/are not as mentally healthy as you could be. You were emotionally upset and seeking relief or resolution.  Since there is no medical, bio-pathological cause of what is being labeled as “mental illness,” there is no pharmaceutical cure for unhappiness.    Change what you want or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.  There are no other successful or effective ways.

 

Grief, Sadness & Sorrow

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

At this present moment a very dear friend of mine is experiencing the decline and impending death of both of her parents. For her in this moment it seems that these inevitable events are getting closer. Her immediate family, that includes her husband and daughters, are an incredible sources of love, strength and support. But sadly, as is true for too many people, there are other family members who are blaming, shaming and pointing accusatory fingers of guilt as a means of dealing with their own fear and pain.

Although not geographically close, a couple of us who are heart and soul sisters, not blood relatives, are able to be immediately present, comforting and supportive through texting. Who would have guessed that technical advances would lead to this extraordinary gift of presence.

We heart and soul sisters are able to offer the needed compassion not just because we love Annie, but because of our own personal experiences with the death of our own parents. For us the pain of losing our parents is still present, just not so immediate.

What place does grief and sorrow play in Mental Health & Happiness? Can you consider yourself Mentally Healthy & Happy even when feeling sad?

For me being Mentally Healthy & Happy means experiencing a full range of emotions: sadness AND joy, contentment AND dissatisfaction, fear AND faith, peace AND discontent, anger AND pleasure. Being Mentally Healthy & Happy means experiencing the negative emotions, and not staying stuck in them.

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If developing and maintaining important, caring and connecting relationships with at least one person is a major contributor to our Mental Health & Happiness, then we are bound to experience profound feelings of loss when these relationships end or change. I still miss both my mother and father every day. At the same time I know that “death ends a life, not a relationship” as Mitch Albom writes in his book “Tuesdays with Morrie.” I continue to maintain a strong relationship with my parents many years after their deaths.

For me, Mental Health & Happiness means I have strategies to deal with my intense negative feelings. I do not fear these negative emotions pretending I don’t experience them. Nor do I need to stay stuck or lost.

Some of these strategies we are sharing with Annie right now are:

Planting both feet solidly on the ground
Taking 4 deep breaths, with eyes closed, arms open wide, expanding heart and gut space with deep inhalation and  blowing out fears, frustrations or just air as you exhale
As you open your eyes repeat your meaningful affirmation All is well, I am well, You are well and so it is that All is well. (Or whatever mantra you create that is meaningful and helpful for you.)

Remember that being Mentally Healthy & Happy does not mean that you are always cheerful, happy and full of sunshine. Being Mentally Health & Happy means that you know, create or learn effective strategies so that when the hard, challenging and stormy life experiences are part of your days, weeks or present moments, you take the time to learn and grow. This too shall pass is true. But imagine seizing even these moments to celebrate the full experience of your life?

Overcoming depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and more

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Want to develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness? Then you need to effectively follow your psychological instructions every day.

Want to feel less stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, alienation and powerlessness? Then you need to more effectively follow your psychological instructions every day.

Want to stop continually  obsessing over one thought, loss, sadness or failure? Want to stop your never ending internal argument of whether or not to ingest that forbidden substance, whether it be food, drink, or drug? Then you need to more effectively and consistently follow your psychological instructions every day.

sadwomanAre you feeling a complete lack of hope, feeling so despondent that you have been considering ending your life? Maybe you are feeling this right now. Then you need to effectively and consistently follow your psychological instructions right now, especially your instruction to connect in a meaningful and authentic way with one other person.

These are your psychological instructions: the urge to feel safe & secure, to be loving with a sense of belonging and connectedness, to be powerful, to be playful, and to be able to make choices with freedom.

Ask yourself these questions:

Who do you feel closest to in the whole world? Who do you share your hopes, dreams, wishes and sorrows with? If you don’t have at least one person in your life that fits these requirements,  start cultivating that kind of a relationship NOW! Your answer could be a pet, or God, or some other similar answer. That’s okay. However, if you can add a real person that would be even better.

Where do you feel important? What are you doing that you know makes a difference in the world, including just your own immediate world? If you can’t give an answer to this question start doing meaningful work, whether volunteer, paid or family work. We all need to feel as though we are making a difference. Make a contribution and know that your presence adds value not just to your own life but the lives of others.

Where do you feel like you have choices and options? Can’t answer that question? Then start  paying better attention to your world and your life now. You have lots of options and choices, including the choice of reading this blog to the end or doing something different. You have more freedom and choices than you realize. You just need to start noticing and giving thanks for all this freedom and choices. (If Viktor Frankl had choices then so do you.)

When was the last time you laughed so hard your cheeks hurt, tears streamed down your face and your belly got tired? Can’t remember? You my friend are in dire need of more fun and learning in your life. Start doing something, anything to be more playful and joyful. This can include going to a funny movie and watching and hearing others laugh, Laughter is contagious. Find a laughing yoga class near you and attend. Search on YouTube for videos of others laughing and watch long enough until you get tickled too.

Where do you feel safest in your world? This is the place where you seek shelter and comfort when you’re frightened. Don’t have that place? Then create it! If you have to, close your eyes and visualize being in a place from your past or your imaginations where you felt held, comforted and safely in a nest. We all need our own personal refuge.

Now that you have completed this brief needs assessment evaluation, do you have any ideas of what you can do to help develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness? Let today be the day you get started.

For better results and greater effectiveness, connect with an accountability buddy. You help your buddy succeed in an area of his choosing, and ask for the help and support you need to succeed in improving your Mental Health & Happiness.