By Dr. Barnes Boffey
Good mental health means always growing and changing to meet the reality of the world in front of us. To do that, we have to bolster those qualities of character which comprise who we are. If, for example, we hope to be strong, patient, courageous and honest, we must tend to these qualities as one would a garden. They must be weeded and fed and watered. One way to do that is to ask the spirit in the universe for help in being more of each of these things.
The dilemma comes in the fact that when we pray or wish for more courage, for example, we are coincidentally asking to be put in a situation where we will experience fear so that the courage can grow. When we ask for patience, we are unwittingly asking to be put in a situation where we feel stressed and impatient – in that stress and impatience is the opportunity for our patience to grow in strength and quality.
The universe tends to give us what we ask for, and if we are unaware of what comes next when asking for positive characteristics, we may become discouraged and think we have been abandoned. Many people feel financially insecure, and it is not unusual for people to ask to feel more financially secure. In the paradoxical universe as it exists, that request may lead to a time of even more financial worry; in that state of worry, we are offered the opportunity to face it head on and become more hopeful and at peace about our financial worries.
The universe is a generous in so many ways, even with unseen opportunities. And, what I ask for is so much less than the universe is willing to give me.
By Maria Trujillo alias Manual DeVie (originally posted 2/24/14)
Home alone. Whaaaat?
With wind chill temperatures averaging in the minus 20’s and a house filled with children suffering from the chicken pox, it was easy to understand my excitement at the first taste of freedom I had had in days. As I watched the school bus carrying my now well children come and go my mind quickly started calculating how much time I had and what I wanted to do with this glorious time to myself.
There was no burning desire to accomplish anything. My power need was satiated. My love and belonging cup was overflowing with all the mommy care that had been going on.
It was more about having the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I smiled at the mere thought of it. I had a day of freedom and fun all to myself!
For me that meant music. I could listen to the music I like at the volume level I want. I had only to please myself.
Spinach is a hard sell in this house. I do have one rule that I apply only to myself though. No woulda, coulda, shoulda’s allowed. That would be like trying to fill your cup knowing you picked one with a slow leak. Ah, the joy, mental health and happiness of being home alone!
By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN (Originally published November 18, 2014)
When I was a child my mother use to say, nag, plead and shout Go outside and play. Now, all these many years later I spend time with my grandchildren who say, nag, plead and shout at me to go outside and play. Hmmm. Maybe somebody knows something I don’t.
In fact there is emerging research (our newest barometer for what is true or not) that being outside in nature improves our mood, lessens our anxiety and enhances our thinking and problem solving abilities.There is even more research touting the benefits than what is mentioned here. Do a Google search to find more if you want.
Whether it’s sitting on a beach, watching and breathing to the rhythm of the waves or sitting in a meadow, watching the breeze dance across the wheat field while blowing clouds along the sky, or dipping your bare feet into a bubbling brook, going outside and connecting with nature will change you.
If you’re looking for solutions to help with feelings of anxiety, depression, unhappiness, anger or stress, go outside and play. This won’t take away your negative feelings all together. It will improve your physical and mental health. This shift in body, mind and spirit will help you handle these negative feelings more effective.
Turns out my mother and my grandchildren all know what they are talking about. I’m making a resolution to start a new habit. I will Go outside and play every day.
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.
By Dr. Nancy Buck
Are you happy in your life right now?
Are all of your important relationships on solid footing?
Are you engaged in work that is meaningful and satisfying to you while benefitting others?
Are you physically healthy?
Are you as spiritually connected as you want to be?
Do you frequently think in challenging and creative ways?
Despite what you were told by your teachers and your parents, daydreaming is essential for a healthy body, mind and spirit. When you spend time imagining your life and the world as it could be you are gaining emotional strength.
When you spend time simply dreaming of what could be, you are opening to the possibilities of even more miracles and happiness in your life.
And this dreaming might just contribute to you taking the necessary action to make some of these dreams and imaginings come true!
DREAM – BELIEVE – RECEIVE – GIVE THANKS
By Brian Patterson
Kids in footie pajamas; frozen windshields and slippery roads; anxiety about how visitors would judge our house and gifts. These are some of my memories of Christmases past when we lived in the Midwest and had a different perspective on life.
Last night, my wife and I hosted the family of our grown children (no footie pajamas) and my in-laws. The house was decorated nicely- with our eclectic style- and there was very little hint of the anxiety which used to pervade these events. We had chosen to go out to eat our evening meal and then go to our house for gifts, desserts and coffee. We have found it mentally healthy to change some traditions so we can enjoy the holidays and people more and worry less about being judged.
I used to feel that I should hand out Olympic-style score cards to everyone as they entered so we could average the scores and see how well we had done. For days, my wife would be frantically preparing and resenting me (or so it felt) for not being involved enough! During the event she was so concerned that everyone else was happy she could not allow herself that same privilege. Afterwards, she would vow to never ‘celebrate’ Christmas again.
The difference between those Christmases past and the more recent ones has been a growing understanding of how our brains work to meet our own needs and how to meet those basic psychological needs in different ways. We know now that we are not built like anyone else and we can meet our own needs in our own ways without duplicating the efforts of others. This has made us less judgmental and coercive and has improved all of our relationships.
Our mental health and happiness is our own responsibility. Knowing this has helped us to eliminate misplaced dependencies and unrealistic expectations. Others are not here to serve and satisfy us but to accompany us on this beautiful journey of life.
This website, www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com, has more insights into how others can discover the same peace at Christmas.
By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
What time did you wake up this morning? Was it the same or close to the same time you woke up yesterday? Did you need to set your alarm, or do you automatically wake up at about the same time every morning?
What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Was it the same or similar to what you ate for breakfast yesterday and the day before? How about your lunches? Are they close or similar to the same things you eat most days?
What time did you go to bed last night? Was it about the same or similar to the same time you usually go to bed?
How about your wardrobe? Do you wear the same or similar things for work, for play, and for leisure time activities?
None of this is surprising or unusual. We are creatures of habit. And for very good reasons. It is easier to do the same things, eat the same things and follow the same habits repeatedly. Just take a moment and imagine that everything you do, eat, and arrange all day long and each day is a brand new creation. You would be exhausted before the middle of the day!
However repeating the same things over and over again can become monotonous and boring. Every once in awhile it’s refreshing and helpful to change some things, like your usual diet or your usual bedtime or your usual route to work. This change can enliven us, wake us up and add some much needed sparkle to our habitual routine lives.
Would you be surprised to learn that your thoughts and thinking patterns are also in this same kind of habit, rut and routine? Whether you are conscious of it or not, chances are very good that you think the same thing every morning upon awakening. Whether your habitual thought is Ugh, morning came too soon today. When is the next time I can get some more sleep? or Good Morning! Today is the start of another glorious day. I wonder what great adventures await me it is more than likely that these are the same things you say to yourself every day.
The same is true when you receive good news or receive an unexpected bill in the mail. Your thoughts of appreciation, gratitude or grumblings and complaints are also well ingrained habitual thoughts.
Did you know that you have the magical powers to change your level of Mental Health & Happiness simply by cultivating new, happier and healthier thoughts and thinking patterns? The same way you can change your diet, your bedtime or your wardrobe, you can also change what you say and think to yourself. However, this is much easier said than done.
Try this experiment. Change the placement of your kitchen garbage container. Keep the new placement until you can throw garbage away without going to the old place and can now automatically go to the new place. Keep track of how many days this takes. William James, founder of modern psychology postulated that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Try your own experiment to see if that is true for you.
Now conduct another experiment. Change one habitual thought during your day. It could be your grumblings of complaints about the other inconsiderate and incompetent drivers on the road, or you internal accusations about your lazy co-workers, or your impatience with your dawdling child. You must first be aware of the habitual thought that you think. Now compose what thought or statement you want to make instead.
Here are some examples:
Transform: Get your blinker fixed you idiot driver
Into: We all drive cooperatively to get to our destinations safely
Transform: For once could you do your job instead of leaving it for the rest of us to complete.
Into: I do my work with an open heart and willingness to serve. I appreciate my co-workers who are doing the same.
Transform: Get a move on kiddo so you don’t make me late again.
Into: We have all the time in the world and will each arrive safely with time to spare.
Remember though, for improved Mental Health & Happiness you must practice your new thought or statement for a minimum of 21 days (or longer) before it becomes automatic and habitual.
Transforming you habitual thoughts will transform you Mental Health & Happiness!
Contributed by Denise Daub
by Amy Morin
Whether you’ve been dumped by your partner, or you’re facing a financial crisis, throwing a pity party won’t help. In fact, feeling sorry for yourself can become downright self-destructive. It makes overcoming adversity difficult — if not impossible — and it keeps you stuck.
Mentally-strong people refuse to allow self-pity to sabotage their success. Instead, they use life’s inevitable hardships as a way to grow stronger and become better.
By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Within the last 30 day of my life, I have met several people who count their age and lives in days rather than years. Instead of saying he was 42-years old, one fellow told me he was 16071 days old.
I’ve calculated that I am 23,509 days old today! WOW! I feel so privileged to have been alive during that many sunrises, sunsets, days filled with sunshine or rain, sleet, hail or snow. (I must admit that was not my initial reaction.)
Of course if I choose to look at this from a different point of view I feel even more old when I calculate my age in days rather than years. But if I count in minutes or seconds I can make myself feel even older!
Go ahead and try it for yourself. Simply google “How old am I in days?” and you can find several calculators to do the work for you.
Are you feeling older? younger? the same? And what does this thinking and shift in perception do for your Mental Health & Happiness?
What do you remember about your 4932 day on the planet?
And yet you were just as alive on that day as you are today.
Each of us has experienced days that were memorable and significant. And each of us has many more days that are ordinary and unremarkable.
How we spend our days is how we live our weeks, months, years and lives.
What will you do today? Are you making the most of this present day? After all it is the only one of these days that you will have in your life time.
Go ahead and commit to choosing today to be the absolutely best day of your life. After all, today is the only day you will ever be this exact age. Today you are the youngest you will ever be for the rest of your life, whether you count your age in days, years, or blue moons.
People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be — Abraham Lincoln