Category Archives: Unhappiness

Types of Quality World Pictures

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

 

 At this point it will probably be pretty obvious what I mean when I refer to types of Quality World pictures. I think there are two basic types: a) “Pictures of how I want the world to be which will still allow me to be who I am today,” and b) “Pictures of me being the person I want to be (probably involving changing who I am today) when the situation does not match what I want.”

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Based on experiences in our lives, we select from all that we have seen certain of those that represent to us the highest quality that we can imagine at that moment. We choose, both consciously and unconsciously, pictures of people, places, things, activities and qualities which we believe are both our ideals and our best chance of being loving, powerful, playful and free. Implied in these pictures is the basic belief that we can actualize these blueprints without having to change much about who we are.  I call these “Ideal World – Actual Me pictures. Because we live in a world dominated by the thinking of external control psychology, we may also ascribe the things we choose with the supposed power to “make“ us happy. The underlying assumption is that if I can get what I have selected as my ideal pictures, I will definitely be happy. The reality is that no external picture can “make” us happy, but the road we follow to achieve it may lead to our being happy when we get there.

As I have mentioned, we often put too much energy into pictures of the way we want the world to be. If those are the predominant pictures we create, we actually reduce our chances of mental health and happiness. To open the doors to mental health and happiness, we need to have a lot more pictures of us being the people we want to be regardless of whether we get what we want or not. We should develop pictures of both what our ideal job looks like as well as pictures of how we can be happy in a less than ideal job. We can have pictures of the college we want our kids to go to, but we should also have pictures about how to be supportive parents if our children choose another direction. I call these pictures “Actual World – Ideal Me” pictures. If we don’t have them, we get too attached to specific outcomes and we start having to exert varying degrees of control over the people in our lives to guarantee those outcomes; that coercion often leads to the destruction of relationships.

To maintain a healthy balance between both types of pictures, we should constantly be asking ourselves, “What would I ideally like to see happen in this situation?” AND “If I were the person I wanted to be, how I would handle it if this situation does not turn out as I hope it will? We are then free to live our lives without fear of reality… we can imagine being happy with the outcomes we want, and we can imagine being happy if things don’t turn out our way.

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.

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?

For some, the holidays are the loneliest time of the year

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.

 

A Little Acceptance

by Dr. Nancy Buck

Spending time with a  person who is in a miserable mood can be a misery.

You mention what a beautiful day you’re both blessed with and your companion mentions the irritating bugs that are so annoying. You smile for no particular reason and your grumble-grouch side kick complains that your ubiquitous joy is another source or irritation. Are you beginning to suspect that your friend is doing everything possible to have you join in the misery?

Is it possible that you are doing everything possible to have your partner join you in joy?

We human beings are a funny lot. Although no one can make us feel happy or miserable, feelings and emotions certainly seem contagious. Hanging around someone who is full of unhappiness and complaints can lead to our own feelings of irritation and upset. It is also possible that spending time with someone who is full of joy and laughter can influence our improved mood.

But if you are dancing and singing, standing on your head and juggling chickens all in an attempt to “cheer”someone’s mood, this will almost always backfire. If a person is committed to or needing to feel unhappy, miserable or grouchy for awhile, there is nothing that anyone can do to change their mind. They have to make this decision and choice themselves.

The one thing that you can do, however, that is kind, loving and respectful is to simply accept that your companion is feeling, thinking and behaving in a bad, sad or complaining mood. You don’t have to like it. And if you feel their mood is “rubbing off”on you, you can choose to temporarily disconnect. But the last thing you should do is to try and “make”them change their mind and mood.

Accepting the feelings of another, whether the other is your child, your parent, your partner or your friend is respectful, kind and loving. Accept that they are feeling this way for their own very good reasons, whether you understand those reasons or not. You can offer a listening ear and an understanding heart, if they want it. But trying to convince them not to feel the way they are is disrespectful, unkind and unloving.

You can contribute to the Mental Health & Happiness of another if you accept that this person is feeling the way they are. You can also contribute to your own Mental Health & Happiness by accepting your own feelings.

Paradigm Shift

By  Mike Rice

Admit it.  We’ve all done it a few times in our lives.  It happens on airplanes, in grocery stores, parks, church, or any other public places.  We experience things outside ourselves that leads to feeling frustrated or angry because “some people’s children,” or someone, or some thing is behaving in ways in which we disapprove.  We begin to think such things as, “These kids need to be taught how to act in public,” or “Boy, Some people’s children . . .,” or “A good swat on their tails would put an end to this kind of behavior.”

When our happiness needs are being disrupted, it’s easy to react in negative ways to attempt to ease the frustration.  You may choose to criticize, blame, complain, nag, threaten or even punish those whom you perceive as the disrupters of your happiness.  Ironically, the thoughts and behaviors that are chosen often cause more unhappiness than they do to resolve it.

EXAMPLE

You are riding a bus and you don’t like riding busses.  You are only doing so because your car broke down and is in the shop being repaired.  So already, you are not all that happy because in your happy world, your car is running well and has no mechanical problems.  You are also unhappy because the bus has to make several stops to let passengers on and off which makes the bus trip seem to be even more unpleasant.

On one of the stops, a man and his two young sons board the bus.  You are reading a newspaper to take your mind off of your unhappiness and to focus on other things.  But even the newspaper articles are stories of things that conflict with your happiness ideals.  Perceiving yourself as in control of your emotions, you do your best to stuff your negative emotions so that others won’t notice them.

busrideThe two boys who recently boarded the bus are now running up and down the aisle of the bus, playing tag and letting out several high-pitched sounds that are unpleasant to you and disrupting your concentration and ability to read your paper.  You begin to think to yourself how unruly these kids are and how poorly they have been raised to behave this way in public.  You glance over to the father who appears to not even be in touch with his surroundings.  He is not only ignoring his children and their behavior, he is just staring out the window at nothing in particular.  And now your values kick into another gear of confirming just how poor a parent this man is and why these kids are behaving so poorly.  Now there are several people around you who are behaving in ways in which you disapprove.  You begin to feel a knot in your stomach.  You clench you teeth.  Your blood pressure rises.  You feel achy.  Your anger intensifies.

Now you don’t care if anyone notices your looks of displeasure or not.  In fact, you hope the father of the two boys will notice your expressions of unhappiness and take measures to get these kids to behave the way you want them to behave.  But the father is too self-absorbed to notice your unhappiness much less the behavior of his sons.  He simply stares out the window as if in a daze.  Meanwhile, the two boys continue to play and yell while chasing each other up and down the aisle of the bus.

You see the father and the boys as the cause of your unhappiness even though you were unhappy before they even boarded the bus.  But since there is nothing you can do about having to ride the bus, you begin to think that you can say or do something to the boys and/or the father to get them to behave the way you want them to behave.  You have held off as long as you can with only the information you see before you that you have recognized as being of the cause of your personal happiness.

Enough is enough!  You yell at the boys, “Sit down and be still!  Quit running up and down this aisle and disrupting everyone!”  And to the father, “Can’t you control these kids?  Some people should never have children because they don’t know how to raise them!”

The father looks stunned.  It appears you just shook him out of a coma.  He replies, “I apologize.  I’m sorry for how my kids are behaving.  Boys?  Come here.  Sit down and be quiet.”  And to you he once again apologizes:  “We’re all a little bit lost in our thoughts right now.  We just got on the bus back there at the hospital.  My wife . . . their mother, just died of cancer a few minutes ago and we are not dealing with it too well right now.”

So what are your thoughts now?  Do you still want to choose to criticize?  Do you still want to complain and blame them for your unhappiness?

This story is an example of how one chooses to think and behave on limited information and self-centered thoughts.  One cannot behave without a thought that leads to an emotion that leads to the choice of the behavior.  Once you change your thoughts, you will change your emotions and your behavior.

At the beginning of this story, you were controlling your behavior as best you could at the time.  But that didn’t work so well so you began to behave based on your thoughts and lashed out at the source you perceived as the cause of your unhappiness.  Once you got more information of what was happening in their world and not in yours, you suddenly changed your thoughts and behavior and may even felt like a jerk.  So now who is apologizing?

It’s not always about you.  Other people have their own unhappiness to deal with.  Just remember:  When you find yourself unhappy because of the behavior of others, you can only control yourself.  And there will always be someone else who has more to be unhappy about than you.

The Next Time You Are Unhappy

Change what you want and/or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.  There are no other effective ways.

 

What is your work life like?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

A recent radio program I listen to proclaimed that more people are unhappy at work than during any other part of their day, including being home sick and vomiting! Considering the amount of time most of us spend working, that means there is a lot of time that a lot of people are unhappy.

It didn’t take me much thought to return to my own work history. Early in my professional life I worked in a very stressful job as one of the front line people answering calls and dealing with folks who were experiencing mental health and emotional emergencies. One of the biggest stressors about this job was never knowing what each shift might bring. We might spend an entire shift completing crossword puzzles and catching up on paper work. Other shifts might include dealing with a person threatening suicide, or talking with a handcuffed person threatening violence brought in by the police. I didn’t hate my work. But I never got comfortable dealing with the potential dangers of the continuous unknown.

The first community mental health center where I worked happened to be located in an old grand home. Simply through ease of configuring office space, all of the emergency services staff occupied one large office space where we each had our own desk, phone, files, etc. There were a couple of private offices where we took clients for private interviews. The serendipitous advantage of this configuration was that we had colleagues to “return to”who could help us process our strategies as well as our own emotional upheaval in dealing with the last upset and upsetting client. And the rest of the staff working in the agency but not part of the emergency services team knew our large shared office space was the perfect place to take their breaks. They were always guaranteed other staff to “chat”with and to help them debrief and de-stress.

The hazard of being the place where everyone “hung out”was that we were also the dumping ground for complaints, upsets, and shedding of various staff members concerns and emotional turmoil.

Not only did we have to handle the stress of our expected clients in crises, we also were carrying the upset and burdens of our colleagues.

One day we of the emergency team decided we had had enough. It was time for us to take care of our own stress and begin more effective stress management and mental health care.

We instituted a rule that was posted clearly and in big letters so all could read as they entered:

You are welcomed to join us and will be invited to stay
as long as you . . .
State 3 positives you have experienced today

                                                OR

                        Tell us a really good joke.         

        Thank you for contributing to our good mental health today.
We hope to return the favor.

The results were awesome. At first people didn’t think we were serious. But when we told them we were. And we assured them we would invite them to leave if they could not fulfill one of the two criteria.

From then on things really started to change in our office. And the improvement was not only experienced by the emergency services team, but also by our “visitors.”

Some people took the joke idea as a challenge and would try and tell us a better joke this day than they had the day before. Some people told us they had to wait to enter until later in the day when they had finally experienced three positive things to share.

The biggest change was to the overall environment and tone in our office. People shared with us the positive, up beat and energizing aspects of their world and experiences. Each of us still faced the challenges and stress of our jobs, but we were able to create a work experience that contributed to our mental health and happiness. We asked for what we wanted and needed. And luckily we had good enough relations with our colleagues to get it.

You ain’t nuthin but a hound dog!

By Mike Rice

We humans can be pretty resilient when disappointed or when things don’t go our way.  One of the most common ways people declare their unhappiness is by complaining.  When all known skills to overcome one’s unhappiness fail, complaining becomes evident.  We’ve all heard the old saw, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  But also, the squeaky wheel can also get replaced.

There is a belief that exists that by moaning and groaning, somehow, somewhere, someone will come along with the answer to one’s unhappiness or even resolve their unhappiness for them.  This usually occurs when the complainer has given up on their own ability to ease their frustration.  So they continue to go through life, moaning and groaning and not doing much about their unhappiness except to give up and endure it . . . complaining all along.

Motivational speaker, Les Brown, tells the story of a young man who heard a sorrowful moaning and groaning sound as he was walking down the street in his neighborhood.  He wondered who and why someone was making this sad lament.  He followed the sorrowful sounds as it got louder and louder indicating he was nearing the source.  He came upon an elderly man sitting on his porch reading a newspaper.  Lying next to the old man was an equally old hound dog.  The young man approached the older man and asked:

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“Excuse me sir.  Is that your dog making that mournful sound?”
The old man replied:  “Yup.”
The young man asked, “Why is he moaning and groaning like that?”
The old man answered, “’Cause he’s laying on a nail.”
This prompted the younger man to ask, “Then why doesn’t he get up?”
And the old man replied, “’Cause he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

Is moaning and groaning resolving your unhappiness or is it just easing your frustration?  Have you found many people to join you in your unhappiness?  Misery loves company but company hates misery.   Whenever you get tired of all the complaining that isn’t making you feel any better, you have three choices you can rely on that will bring you happiness at a moment’s notice . . . guaranteed.