Category Archives: Joy

Fake It

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?

safety:     1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
love:        1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
power:     1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
fun:          1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
freedom:  1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

laughingdogWith this information can you plan to do something now, or at the latest tomorrow, to increase your satisfaction for the need with the lowest number?

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.

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.

chair-beach

Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

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!

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.                                              

Colors

By Dr. Nancy Buck,

This is my favorite time of the year! Finally the world is waking up and is full of the complete spectrum of colors, not just the black, white, brown and grays of winter.

Now the grass is turning green, the tulips are popping into bloom, the red bud emerges, sweet daffodils declare themselves yellow, and white, purple, and lavender hyacinths burst forth in color and fragrance.

canstockphoto0374035What is your favorite color? Do you have one color dominating your closet or wardrobe? Is this the color you’ve been told looks best on you or one that you really love?

What colors do you live with in your home? Was this your choice or one made by someone else? Are you happy with the choice?

Have you ever noticed your mood changing because of the colors that surround you? After I painted and wallpapered by babies’nursery yellow I learned that yellow brings out crying and whining in babies! Luckily this seemed to only be a notion declared in a magazine article and not one shared by my children.

Why not take a moment today and consider how color affects your Mental Health & Happiness. I know I’m a woman who craves, loves and is affected by color. When Im surrounded by too many neutrals of navy, beige or gray, I grow tired, flat and less happy.

How about you?

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.

Color Your World

By Dr. Nancy Buck,

This is my favorite time of the year! Finally the world is waking up and is full of the complete spectrum of colors, not just the black, white, brown and grays of winter.

Now the grass is turning green, the tulips are popping into bloom, the red bud emerges, sweet daffodils declare themselves yellow, and white, purple, and lavender hyacinths burst forth in color and fragrance.

canstockphoto0374035What is your favorite color? Do you have one color dominating your closet or wardrobe? Is this the color you’ve been told looks best on you or one that you really love?

What colors do you live with in your home? Was this your choice or one made by someone else? Are you happy with the choice?

Have you ever noticed your mood changing because of the colors that surround you? After I painted and wallpapered by babies’nursery yellow I learned that yellow brings out crying and whining in babies! Luckily this seemed to only be a notion declared in a magazine article and not one shared by my children.

Why not take a moment today and consider how color affects your Mental Health & Happiness. I know I’m a woman who craves, loves and is affected by color. When Im surrounded by too many neutrals of navy, beige or gray, I grow tired, flat and less happy.

How about you?

11/12/13

Today is November 12, 2013.

That means today is 11/12/13!

We only have one of those dates left in our lifetime. Next year, on December 13, 2014 the date will be 12/13/14.

Today don’t miss this opportunity to write11-12-13 the date as many places as you can.

What has this got to do with mental health and happiness? One of our greatest needs is the need for fun. This includes finding joy where ever you can. For me there is joy in discovering that today is an extraordinary day simply because of the date on the calendar.

This may not be your greatest joy, but don’t miss joy where ever you can find it.

Share this special calendar fun with others to bring joy to them as well.