New neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy
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.
But 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.
By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
The five basic and genetic needs for Happiness are Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun. These needs will almost always require a connection with someone else in order to both achieve and maintain. As Dr. Wm Glasser asks: “How happy and enthused would you be if you were playing golf alone and shot a hole-in-one?” Your excitement would be short-lived at best. There would be no one to share in the happiness of such an event, much less, confirm that you did, indeed, get a hole-in-one.
Try as you might to get your friends excited about your accomplishment, you would get feedback such as, “yeah, right,” or “well good for you.” There will be no shouts of joy or excitement because they didn’t see you do it and therefore, they cannot share fully in your emotion. Your continued happiness would be the result of their excitement for you. Since they weren’t there to witness the deed, all they can do is pat you on the back and say, “nice going.”
The paradox of happiness is that while no one can make you happy, happiness requires a satisfying relationship with those who are important to you. The golfer who shot the hole-in- one did so on his own, but it would take someone meaningful to him to achieve happiness from his victory. Had someone else been with him to witness the achievement, he would have surpassed pleasure and would have realized tremendous happiness.
When a person has exhausted all the skills they possess to acquire and/or maintain meaningful relationships, they begin to rely only on those things that they can achieve or do that does not involve another person. The satisfaction they receive from these behaviors is what they wrongly perceived as happiness. Pleasure is much more intense than happiness but it has one major drawback . . . it is short lived. Pleasure diminishes almost as quickly as it is achieved. Therefore, the behavior that creates pleasure must often be repeated several times to maintain the pleasure received. Think of the mouse in the lab study that keeps pushing the lever over and over to get his dose of cocaine’s pleasurable feeling. Happiness is not as intense as pleasure but it generally tends to last for days, weeks, months, and even years.
Five Basic Needs for Pleasure
Pleasure is usually attained without the need or involvement of anyone else or at the expense of another person.
You don’t need anyone in your life to experience pleasure. You DO have to have meaningful relationships in order to experience happiness.
Five Basic needs for Happiness,
Once the 5 Basic Needs for Happiness are maintained, the need for Pleasure diminishes from compulsive behaviors to occasional behaviors, or total cessation, and will result in a happier and healthier way of living.
By Dr. Nancy Buck (originally posted December 4, 2014)
Good relationships are built on many things, including accepting, encouraging, supporting and trusting one another. But a good relationship with others alone is not enough. Strong mental health that leads to happiness must include a good relationship with YOU. That means we each must consistently accept, encourage, support and trust ourselves most of all. For many this practice feels like a stretch.
Research suggests that most people have an easier time giving and supporting others with compassion than we do turning that inward. And studies link self-compassion to lower anxiety and depression. Another benefit is increased optimism, better relationships and greater overall satisfaction in life. This practice will improve your physical as well as mental health.
Here’s how to get started:
• Notice when you give or receive acceptance, encouragement, support or trust to or from another.
• Notice when you start discounting, discrediting, blaming or beating yourself up.
• As soon as you notice any of the above moments that lack self-compassion, immediately change to a kinder or gentler thought or statement.
• Continue to practice noticing how you give and receive these kindnesses to your family, friends and loved ones
• Continue to practice noticing and changing all moments of disrespect and lack of self-compassion
By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted November 14, 2013)
One of the characteristics of mental health and happiness is getting our needs met in and through our relationships with caring other people.
Dr. Glasser describes these needs in a couple of ways. One, from his first best selling book “Reality Therapy” he points out that we need to “Love and be loved, and to feel worthwhile to ourselves and to others.”
Later, when he wrote “Choice Theory” he listed our basic needs as “Survival, Love and belonging, Freedom, Power and Fun.”
One way I meet my fun needs is by learning. Recently I was reading a book entitled “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, MD. One paragraph jumped out at me because it spoke to ways to grow closer to the ones we love. Having a wife, three daughters, and five granddaughters, the more I can understand the female experience of life, the closer I can be in these very special relationships.
This is a quote from the book: “If she’s married or partnered with a male brain, each will inhabit two different emotional realities. The more both know about the differences in the emotional realities of the male and female brain, the more hope we have of turning those partnerships into satisfying and supportive relationships and families.”
I highly recommend this book.
by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN (originally published November 18, 2014)
I’ve never met a person who didn’t have their days feeling low or down. Sometimes it’s for a very good reason, like a rainy week spoiling your vacation at the beach. Sometimes it’s for no obvious or evident reason at all. And sometimes your down day provides a temporary pause or time-out that you’re sorely needing.
If your blues are getting you down enough so that you’ve decided you want to take action, here are a couple of ideas that might help.
You could do a needs inventory. On a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is the low level and 10 complete satisfaction, how are you doing meeting your needs today?
Or you could just start laughing! Go ahead, try it. Did you know that if you fake laugh long enough, you’ll actually start to authentically laugh really hard?
That’s right, you can fake it until you make it just by laughing, laughing, laughing! If you’re skeptical, try it out now. Or if you just want to give a boost to your present Mental Health & Happiness start laughing now!
And if you discover you enjoy this, not only can you start laughing at any time for no good reason, you could sign up for a Laughing Yoga class in your neighborhood. No kidding, there is an official yoga class and laughter clubs developed by physician Madan Kateria from Mumbai, India. You can start laughing now with a room full of strangers. Together you all start with fake laughter until you are all laughing really hard and joyfully together. At the same time you will be improving your Mental Health & Happiness for sure.
by Mona Dunkin
Noted Psychiatrists, Dr. William Glasser, suggests the term “mental health” be replaced with “responsibility”. Responsibility is the ability to get one’s needs met without depriving others of meeting theirs. When needs are unmet we feel unfulfilled and fail to live at optimum wellness. We are not taking charge of our lives.
In 1998 I attended a lecture given by Dr. Glasser in which he intimated that certain physical and mental maladies are chosen. I took issue with that; I mean, anyone who would choose pain and misery would have to be crazy!
He went on to explained our basic needs and how we are driven to have them met. Our health – physical as well as mental and emotional – is dependent on how our body handles our actions, our thoughts and the way we feel about things.
This led me to do some deep thinking. I ask myself some hard questions: Was swallowing my anger inflaming my joints? Was my anger not only harming relationships but also my physical heart and blood pressure? How am I hurting myself? I do not want to hurt others but neither do I want to harm myself.
I began to practice the genius of Dr. Glasser’s wisdom. When we begin to lovingly notice our disconnecting habits of thought and actions we can then choose to turn our attention to matters that leads to greater health and happiness and improved relationships. Only when we come to a conclusion for our self are we willing to make changes or take charge of our own life.
Oh, and my health today? Thanks for asking. Peace reigns, relationships flourish, business is good, movement is pain free, most meds have been cut in half and I am releasing weight every day.
How about you? Are you ready to take charge of your life?
Contributed by Denise Daub
Habits. They are so ingrained in us that we do them without realizing it. They are second nature, and we can live our whole lives with destructive and harmful habits, scratching our heads wondering why we aren’t happy or successful. We don’t even realize that are in a continuous loop of doing the same things over and over again, yet expecting different results.
And while it’s not easy to get rid of a bad habit, it is possible to create healthier, better habits, that will make all the difference in our happiness and success.
Here are nine common habits that get in the way of our happiness:
By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted April 29, 2014)
I first heard of the “Cross of Life” in the early 70s. Dentistry was going through a shift in orientation from post crisis “count the cavities” to preventive “don’t get cavities.” We were looking at what made people well. I had read Dr. Glasser where he encouraged us to think in terms of pursuing health and wellness rather than running from disease and unhappiness.
Two components that come to us from all the sages through the ages is the importance of balance and harmony in life. The so called “Cross of Life”, balancing the four components of “Work, Worship, Love and Play” had been promoted by the Mayo Clinic as a simple way to conceptualize the importance of balanced harmony. Harmony in life, as in music, moves us toward happiness. Balance is essential to the wholeness we seek for our mental health.
A quick Google search brought me to this article from a small town paper in Victoria, Texas dated August 1942. The author, speaking from the Mayo Clinic, gives a good review of the importance of balancing Work, Worship, Love and Play in our lives.
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.”
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.
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.