Category Archives: Fun

Meditation in Motion

by Veronica Daub

It was difficult to watch the smiling faces of my friends spinning in and out of view, their limbs contorting and stretching in ways that resembled circus ballerinas. A plastic circle—a hula hoop; well, I thought those died out with elementary recess. But between laughter and silent moments of concentration, it was clear to see their minds were snagged on something deeper. I could see the spark resulting from accepting a challenge flare across their face; a look of accomplishment upon the landing, or the seamless retrieval of their plastic dance partner as it tried to roll away. Their facial expressions danced with the rest of their bodies, and with all the focus in the limbs, naturally the control over the face slackened—their blatant joy was genuine and not forced. As they twirled within their circles, I could tell I was invisible to them, sitting on the lawn while mindlessly tearing grass from the ground. I looked on with fascination; I couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Finally: “Hey, teach me something.”

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Three years later, my hoop and I have been through much reflection. People have called me “high-strung,” and I’ll admit I’ve always grown annoyed when attempting meditation. Sitting still doesn’t work for me—perhaps I need practice, but the combination of stilling my mind while allowing my body to convey the thoughts that flutter through my head has proven to be much more than useful. The hoop offers something much similar to meditation while including the action of my entire body. Whether it’s a distraction from any hurt or hardship that falls into my lap and wraps itself round my brain, a vehicle to release tension or stress from work or relationships, or a tool that magnifies a celebration—my hoop aligns me.

My hoop has become an extension of my limbs, and of course, it did not begin that way. Just like picking up a guitar for the first time, your fingers don’t know what to do, they’re awkward on the strings and it feels as though they’ll never feel at home on the neck of the instrument. The same is with the simple circle—it’s a foreign object that, just like a new friend, you need to grow familiar and comfortable with. When I first began, I would play for ten minutes before growing frustrated and tossing it aside. However, I always tell newcomers (because I try to spread the love of the circle further and further) the more you learn, the longer you’ll practice, because the more fun it will be. And then fun gives way to tools that benefit your headspace; within the circle is a place of comfort, a way to blur away and ease the frustrations of day to day life.

Plus, just wow, is it a great workout.

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There are many different ways to experience your hoop. On the wings of my favorite playlist, I drive myself into a dizzy stupor as my body tries to keep up with the tricks my mind tries to convey to my limbs, and I stumble around while panting through a huge grin that’s typical of a fiery session. But other times, my features are like still water, and my movements are slow and calculated. It’s during these times that the music is off, along with most of my senses. From the hoop to my fingertips, up my arm and to my shoulder blade, there is a direct connection to the stresses of my head which melt away as I let myself play with a toy like a child again. It’s necessary to embrace the child within us all, and the hoop has taught me to let the qualms of my life roll by like the hoop over my chest—contemplation rather than dwelling, and letting go rather than clenching on for dear life.

 

The Creative Mind (Part One)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

creativity-mikerice

Creativity can be found in all of us.  Many people consider creativity to be limited to the ability to make something materialistic, or to express one’s self in art, cooking, inventing, writing, or music.  While these things certainly require creativity, creativity is not limited to talent in those areas alone.   Everyone uses creativity each and every day of their lives for many different things.  We rely on creativity based upon the knowledge that we already possess about specific things, logic, and willingness to go beyond our knowledge.  We use creativity to make decisions that are primarily designed to result in happiness or pleasure.  We use creativity to solve or resolve problems in business, discussions/arguments, and in our relationships.

All we do, each and every day of our life is behave.  We choose our behaviors to satisfy our needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  When any of these needs are not being met to our desired level of satisfaction, it is human nature to rely on our creativity to satisfy and maintain those unmet needs.

If you have ever watched Naked and Afraid on cable TV, then you have watched individuals using their creative skills to satisfy their survival needs.  In relationships, we tend to put our best food forward when we first meet someone.  Behaving in a manner to cause another person to hopefully be drawn to you in a relationship relies on creativity for love and belonging needs.  Musicians, Artists, Chefs, Writers, Dancers, Educators, Athletes, and Inventors rely on creativity to be appreciated, helpful, competitive, to win, and to be respected as a result of their creative abilities.  These are ways of satisfying power needs.  Investing wisely for the future, making decisions and planning ways to free one’s self from confinement or from poor relationships relies on creativity.  Planning events, vacations, learning, and recreating requires creativity to make these things happen.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and you just couldn’t come up with the things you wanted to say at the time in order to make a point?  That’s a silly question.  We’ve all done this.  Later, after the discussion or argument is over and both have gone separate ways, you continue to use your creativity thinking about it and suddenly you come up with whatever it is that you wish you had said or done during the discussion.   “I should have said . . . . “or “I should have done . . . .”  That’s creativity.

Here’s an exercise to utilize your creativity:  You wake in the morning and notice that it’s raining and you have a flat tire.  This is surely a frustrating situation.  So what will you do?  Some would say, “I’d change the tire by jacking it up and putting the spare on.”  But what would you do if you had loaned the jack to your neighbor several months ago and he never returned it?  “I’d go next door and get it back.” But he left for work an hour ago and no one else is at home.  “I’d call a friend to come get me to take me to work.”  S/he’s already gone and at their place of work.  “I’d call a cab to take me to work.”  These are examples of creativity.   Some may not use their creative skills very much and say, “I’d go back to bed.”  There are even more examples to this scenario that I could add but you get the idea.  Creativity is being used to overcome a frustrating situation.  With each creative endeavor that fails, another creative method is created until one of them eventually satisfies the frustration and need.

Lighten Up

By Nancy S Buck and Kim Olver

Have you ever noticed how many opportunities there are in life to laugh? If you’re willing you can discover even more chances to lighten up and laugh at yourself. If you’re willing to get curious and investigate you may just discover something every day  that is laugh-worthy.

Have you ever driven away from a gas pump with the hose still in your car? I have. Have you ever fallen on the ground for no good reason? I have, multiple times! Have you ever gone somewhere wearing totally the wrong clothes? I have. My list goes on and on. I recently broke both my ankles in a hot air balloon accident and do you know, I didnt have a leg to stand on? Ha! Ha! Ha!

laughingdogPerhaps those things don’t tickle your funny bone but if you look you just might find your own moments to help you lighten up and laugh.

While in the back yard at my son’s house one of his dogs chased a squirrel up a tree. The poor pooch hung out for a long time barking and carrying on. In the meantime the squirrel had jumped into another tree, and then another finding his escape route. There was the dog barking up the wrong tree! Ha! Ha! Ha!

There was another incident with my other son when we went to a bank together. While my son went up to the teller to do his business I hung back. There I spied a blind man being led into the bank by another blind man. I was incredulous. I was witnessing the blind leading the blind! Ha! Ha! Ha!

When things happen in your life, you have a choice. You can take yourself seriously or you can laugh your way through it. Which way do you think will contribute to your Mental Health & Happiness?

Rather than laughing at others you can always find a way to laugh at yourself and at life’s circumstance. You can laugh in embarrassing situations. You can laugh in tragic situations. You can laugh in funny situations.

You can laugh instead of choosing anger. You can laugh when you are sad. You can laugh when you are surprised. You can laugh when you make a deep, or great, or superficial discovery.

See if you can find the genuine humor or way to lighten up your situation. You shouldn’t have to look too far to find it. And if discovering the humor or way to lighten life up has never been one of your strengths or gifts, cultivate a friendship with a person who has this gift. Watch and listen so you can learn how.

You can do a quiet chuckle to yourself, a full out belly laugh or anything in between. See if finding the humor doesn’t improve your Mental Health & Happiness!

Creative Endeavors

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

 

Are you a creative person?

If you answered no to that question, what is your evidence? Do you point to the lack of artwork you have produced, or claim there is no original song or lyric that you composed? Perhaps you have never designed a building or the interior of any space, including the interior space of a book.

All of this may be true, and yet there is no doubt that you are a creative person.

For instance, what have you done today? What else do you plan to accomplish this week? Is anyone else on the planet going to experience their day exactly the same way you are? This is all of your own making based on  your moment to moment decisions, accomplishments, and creations.

The problem for many of us when considering the question of being or not being a creative person is the limited definition we give to the idea of creativity. Please take a moment and realize that not only are we creative, we are incredibly creative. Our creation starts with how we begin our day and continues with each choice we make. These choices include what we will wear, to what we eat, to what we say. All of these choices are from our own design and creation.

Even if you wear a uniform, not everyone in your school, hospital, military troop, or company looks exactly the same even if everyone is following the dress code. Originality, uniqueness and creativity is at the root of these differences even when they are subtle.

singingWhat has creativity got to do with Mental Health & Happiness? Some claim that spending time in creative endeavors is what feeds our souls. Glaser’s need for fun can be understood as our genetic instruction for play, creativity and expression of our originality. Mark Twain defined fun as the thing that you do when you don’t have to do it.

What ever you call it, which ever definition you abide by, spending time in creative endeavors significantly improves and maintains our good Mental Health & Happiness.

And yet there are some of you reading this who believe that you just aren’t creative. Let me invite you to approach this from a different angle.

Do you have any hobbies? Let me list a few and see if you can find something that resonates:

Gardening                                                                   Playing a musical instrument

Dancing                                                                       Doodling or noodling

Writing                                                                         Building

Sewing                                                                        Furniture arranging (and for some re-                                                                                                              arranging, and more rearranging)

Cooking                                                                       Knitting

Wood working                                                            Calligraphy

Story telling                                                                 Repeating movie dialogues

Amateur theater, including costume design, set design, etc

Table-scaping                                                             Pet training

Pet grooming                                                              Home staging

Get the idea? Any time you participate in any of these, including your own hobbies you are engaging with your creative endeavors. Your creativity does not need to be publicly acclaimed or acknowledge. Creative endeavors are all about the personal, internal joy, happiness and satisfaction you experience while participating.

Want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start noticing and acknowledging all the ways you are a creative person. You are an absolute original, inventing, re-inventing, creating and re-creating yourself every day. Talk about creative endeavors . . . !

Pay it Forward…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

  I used to carry a card in my wallet that had two messages.

One was something attributed to Lincoln sayinghappypeople that people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

The second was encouragement to do something nice for someone and don’t get caught.

Occasionally I encounter exceptional service in a store or office.  I like to write letters to that person’s superior, telling of my very positive experience.  One lady traced me down and told me that my letter had been part of the reason she got a major promotion.

I like to look for heartwarming smiles.  First I like to smile back, and then I like to tell the other person how pleasant they look.

That was reversed on me recently.  I was in the Dallas airport going through the security line.  One lmartinlutherkingady directed me to another line.  She was pleasant, not surly.  I smiled at her.  She looked at me and said, “with that smile darlin…” and she went on to make a lightly flirtatious comment.  I have to admit that I smiled on the inside, too. J

I don’t like to focus on physical appearance or clothing because that can be seen as flattery, which I want to avoid.  That’s why I like the word “heartwarming”.  Something that sends a message of life and goodness is worth recognizing.

Of course the takeaway message here is that what you give in love and kindness you get back.  So let’s give a bunch today.motherteresa

Have some Fun!

Dr. Barnes Boffey

There are those who believe that fun is an inside job and those who believe it is external.

When we say “This isn’t fun” or “That’s fun,” we are describing the fun as external; we are saying the fun is contained within an outside event or experience.

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This appears to be true, but in reality, the fun we experience in any event has to do with our internal attitude and perspective. There are people who have fun washing dishes and people who have fun doing all sorts of things that one might not see as “fun” activities. It’s all in how you approach the task.

Yes, some tasks are easier to approach with a light heart and a whimsical
perspective, but it in the end (to paraphrase a Beatles lyric) “The fun we take is equal to the fun we make.”

One way to hold onto this perspective is to change our language about “fun.” When we say “That’s not fun,” we have ascribed the fun feeling externally to “that.” It is easier if we realize that a basic instruction/need in our lives can be  described as “fun,” but we can also describe it as a basic instruction to “be playful.”

If we ask ourselves, “Am I being playful while doing this activity?” rather than “Is this activity fun?” we can keep an accurate perspective. “Being playful” is an internal attitude, not an external attribute. People who are always looking for fun outside themselves will be generally disappointed, often bored, and occasionally depressed. Playful people are not worried about the conditions around them; they bring the fun they want to experience.

Use it or lose it!

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN                                                          

Are you interested in keeping your mind and thinking sharp? Then use it. Recent research tells us that frequent participation in problem solving and thinking games and activities will help us ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want to maintain your physical strength and abilities? Then start exercising and keep at it. Amazingly our muscles will grow stronger as long as we are using them. Using them can include strength building exercises, playing sports, or completing activities of daily living.

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Do you want to remain a sexual person? This same principle applies. Use it or lose it. Engaging in sexual activities keeps your sexual desire alive. And when the desire and urge are present chances are that acts of romance will follow.

Now lets consider your happiness muscles. Are you using them frequently and regularly? If not you are bound to slowly lose them. Use it or lose it applies to your Mental Health & Happiness too.

Do you know any grumpy people? Sadly there are more peevish older people than those of other ages. But being irritable and crotchety is not reserved exclusively for the elderly. Anyone who is not exercising, using and working out their happiness muscles is in great peril of becoming ill-tempered and churlish.

Rather than waiting for the research to confirm this idea, understand NOW that if you don’t practice strengthening, endurance and flexibility in developing your happiness muscles you will lose them.

Choose to meet your needs for safety, fun, love & belonging, power and freedom every day in responsible and respectful ways. Exercise your happiness muscles in the following ways:

smiling    producing    giving thanks   journaling   relaxing being mindful   creating       being in sunshine   exercising  physically   sleeping     healthy eating     socializing     volunteering   meditating                                                          

What do you do everyday to improve your personal well-being?

Remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!              

Frequency Not Intensity

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that the more frequently you notice and indulge in a positive experience you will have a greater sense of happiness and well being than if you wait for one big or intense experience?  At least that’s what psychologist Ed Deiner who has done extensive research on Subjective Well Being (SWB) has found.

This has interesting implications, don’t you think?

For those of you who may be keeping your “nose to the grind stone” while pushing, working and slaving away hoping to make up for the heavy duty focus during your annual week’s vacation, it may be time to rethink this strategy.

For parents or teachers who are insistent that your child (at what ever age) stop their foolishness and start concentrating on serious work, it may be time to start giving your child different advice.

And for those of you who may have learned about some of the seemingly silly games and distractions found at places like Google, perhaps we can all follow this different kind of a lead.

We can each increase our Mental Health & Happiness by planning for frequent moments of positive experiences throughout our day.

canstockphoto7428668Instead of working hard fifty weeks a year hoping to make up for it with your two week vacation, sprinkle in more joy, fun, and pleasure during the fifty weeks too.

Teachers and parents, schedule break times often during study hours. Include free dancing, juggling, water balloon battles and tongue twisters. Your child will have greater Mental Health & Happiness and will probably be more productive during the work and study time too.

And last but not least, start keeping track of all that you love, like, find fun and pleasurable. It’s hard to increase the frequency of pleasure and positive in your day and life if your only link is to positive is chocolate. I’m not saying don’t indulge your chocolate moments, but finding and making more positive and pleasure with more alternatives gives you more possibilities and greater chances of success.

Make today the day that includes many positive and pleasurable breaks! Watch how your Mental Health & Happiness increases.

Happy Halloween!

by Denise Daub

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? When was the last time you had some fun and did something silly?  Do you take the time and stop and enjoy these moments with your children or do you rush around taking them trick-or-treating to get it over with?  Do you spend your time thinking about and stressing about everything you have to do?  Are you checking your email and making sure you “stay connected” and don’t miss anything?  Guess what, you are missing it.. you are missing everything.

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The other day while surfing the never ending array of channels and finding, as usual, nothing interesting to watch, I came across a movie which brought back happy memories, Hocus Pocus. I remembered  how much my daughter loved this movie.  Like most kids she would watch it over and over again for the month of October, it was her Halloween movie. My husband and I would sit and watch it with her over and over again. I remembered how much fun we had dressing up, going to Halloween parties and  trick-or-treating.  This is before cell phones were so popular, this was before my hectic busy life that don’t allow silliness or fun anymore.  My daughter is now 21 and that movie is still one of her favorites.

I suddenly found myself shutting the laptop, putting my phone away and snuggling on the couch to watch this movie that I knew by heart.  My husband joined me and we reminisced about our daughter and Halloweens gone by.

When you take your child(ren) or grandchild(ren) out this Halloween, be present and leave the phone home .. the work and email will still be there when you get back, it isn’t going anywhere but your children are…

Make this Halloween a Mentally Healthy and Happy one!

 

Can fun change behavior?

By Nancy S Buck, Phd, RN

Many years ago I learned of an ingenious invention.  A father who was worried about the number of solitary and sedentary hours his children spent passively watching television decided to make a change in his home. He configured a stationary bicycle that needed to be pedaled in order to provide the electricity to power the television. If his children wanted to watch TV they had to produce the pedal power to make the TV work. At the time I wished I had the knowledge and skill to make my own TV run by Nancy energy.  At least I would be exercising while I spent what I considered to be too much time “vegging” out in front of the boob tube.

Hold onto your hats, folks. There is a website that may delight, surprise and inspire you. The Fun Theory, http://www.thefuntheory.com is An initiative of Volkswagen. 

canstockphoto6113908This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for  the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

 Spend a bit of time on this website and learn about all sorts of ideas people have not only imagined, but that the folks from The Fun Theory have actually made into a reality, and discover the miracle of fun.

Dr. Glasser declared that fun is one of the five genetic instructions driving all behavior. What this website demonstrates over and over and over again is that people are more likely to follow the path that will lead them to fun. Along the way, parents, or governments can associate the fun path with wished for behavioral changes.

For instance, creating a game to pick up toys, or decluttering a room, or doing homework,  increases the chances you child (and you adult) will complete the task. The child probably has very little interest in completing the task. But children always have interest in fun, more fun, and more fun and games.

Or, as one of the video demonstrates, recycling material that increases the publics accumulated “pin ball” machine score increases the likelihood that people will recycle. When people can play the “piano keys” on a stairway they are more likely to use the stairs instead of the escalator also provided.

Do you want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start meeting your need for fun, (which includes learning as long as the learning is fun), more regularly. See if you can create a game, challenge or more fun into your least favorite chores and jobs. Ask your children for their ideas and help. Children are experts at making fun and games anywhere, anytime whether appropriate or not. They can also be your consultant and coach when you need more fun in your life!