Tag Archives: balance

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

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


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

daydream3

The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

Cross of Life

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted April 29, 2014)

I first hecrossoflifeard 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 crossoflife2“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.

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.”

Veronica-balance

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.

12805881_1002976919773866_681530951106838511_n

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.

 

Cross of Life

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posed 5/1/14)

I first hecrossoflifeard 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 crossoflife2“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.

One Perfect Strawberry

By Dr. Nancy Buck

You cannot raise happy, secure, well-adjusted children, revel in a fabulous relationship, and work a sixty-hour week. You want to. I know. So do I. But it is physically, emotionally, and spiritually impossible. — Sarah Ban Breathnach

With all of the information that is more readily available through social media about what friends, family and acquaintances are doing there is also the potential to create and fall into your own unhappy trap. Are you good enough?

Is someone else doing a better job at their life than you are in yours? Are they happier? More successful? Do they find the time to create fabulous pinterest pages while you’re still trying to get yesterday’s breakfast dishes in the dishwasher before tonight’s dinner?

For some Martha Stewart and the Kardashians are an inspiration. But for others, these women strike fear and dread into the heart of the woman who yearns to but knows she can never successfully measure up.

Simply surrender to the knowledge that no one can have it all if your expectations for all are so out of proportion. No matter what your education, socio-economic status, race, gender or religion, we each are only given 24 hours in our day. No matter how you learn to improve your time management you still cannot create more time in the day.

Surrender your unrealistic expectations and find relief not disappointment.

Aim for making and keeping balance in your days. Balance those things that you care about, that are important to you, that bring you joy, mental health and happiness.,

You get to decide. Does having it all mean finding one perfect strawberry to eat with great ceremony and delight. Or will you race through this day finally falling into bed exhausted without one thought, memory or recollection of anything that you ate. Will you surrender to the best of what you can have or continue seeking a life that is the best one posted on Facebook that day?

Neutral

By Gloria Smith Cisse, LPC, LMSW, CTRTC

Happiness is not simply the absence of sadness.   Happiness is much more.  It is a place of peace, comfort, quiet, beauty, and contentment.  It seems the thing we are always chasing is a kind of excitement that comes from getting something that we felt we have always wanted or needed.  This can be synonymous with drug addiction or thrill seeking.  I have never really enjoyed roller coasters and I don’t believe emotional roller coasters are any different.

A few days ago while I was in my car driving from one work site to the next, I thought about happiness.  Questions like: What is happiness for me?,  Am I happy right now?, and How would people know I am happy? danced around in my mind.  It occurred to me that I had not been “happy” in some time.  It also occurred to me that I was also not sad.  About a week before Thanksgiving 2015, I lost my mother.  I should be sad, right?

Some of my sisters and I communicate with each other on an almost daily basis. It feels like they are having a much harder time adjusting to life after our mother’s death than I am.  I was thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me because I was not as sad as they appeared to be.  I had made a choice to not depress.  I had not told them that, I don’t know if they would have understood.  I made the choice years ago because I had already spent too many years of my life being “clinically depressed.”

I have made a choice to get off the happiness – sadness roller coaster.  I can enjoy the happiness more because I experienced, understand, and appreciate the sadness.  I have learned to respect and give sadness its time because I know that it does not last forever.   As a matter of fact, I choose to not depress.

veronica-balanceSince that night alone in my car, I have decided that neutral, a place of balance, peace, contentment, and weightlessness, is a great place to be. It takes effort to remain balanced.  Anyone who has ever tried yoga will tell you, it’s hard!   I am not chasing happiness.  The mental picture I have is one coasting at my own pace and being surrounded by the things and people I enjoy.  This does not mean that I will avoid happiness.  It means that for now I will do my life and enjoy the peace that comes from simply doing my life.   I will choose the amount of time I spend sad.  I will not live on an emotional roller coaster.

I prefer to think of it as living like a “weeble wobble.”  Some of you may remember, “weebles; wobble but the don’t fall down.”  I can wobble from side to side but I will not remain in any one place too long,  except neutral…smile!

 

The Glad Game

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

It ain’t a ball or a strike until I call it, says the umpire.

If you’re a baseball fan you are familiar with that expression. There may be plenty of fans and players who might call the pitch a ball or a strike, but the umpire gets the final say.

Did you know that you are the umpire in your own perceptions of your life with these same kinds powers? You’re making your own calls all day long. Your judgment calls declare the world to be a good or bad place, your temporary hotel room ugly or beautiful, or the President’s or Congressional decisions to be moral or immoral, right or wrong.

Just as there are players and fans at a baseball game who disagree with the umpires calls there are others in your life that may disagree with your “call.” But you still have the ability and power to make the call.

In fact, it is very difficult to STOP judging the world. Our brains are hard wired for a negative bias. This biological function enables us to quickly assess a predatory animal, a dangerous path or a poisonous food. Without this function our species would have perished a long time ago. I wouldn’t be here writing and you wouldn’t reading this blog without our valuing filters that lead to our judgements, actions, opinions and corrections.

That also means that we are not hard wired for a positive bias. We must learn and practice over and over again in order to notice and celebrate all that is good, in balance and life sustaining.

PollyAnna, the overly nice, sweet and optimistic heroine in the 1913 Eleanor Porter novel by the same name can be our teacher here. She was taught by her pastor father to always find the silver lining in every cloud. PollyAnna developed this skill so proficiently that she was able to discover what was good about receiving crutches as the charitable Christmas gift instead of the doll she was hoping for from the generous parishioners. What was good? At least she didn’t need them.

This skill is referred to as the Glad Game. And as simperingly simple and sugary sweet as you may imagine it, developing and regularly practicing the Glad Game can actually improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Remember, what you perceive and judge as unfair, ugly, mean, or too hard can be changed by you. Look for the fair and equitable in what you are calling unfair. See if you can find the handsome or unusual in what you are declaring as ugly. Is there any justifiable or understandable aspect in what you now declare mean? Can you discover the challenge and stretch to pursuing what you called too hard?

Simply by reviewing a circumstance, action or object you can usually find the good as well as the not good. It is our brain’s hard wiring that has us rushing to the negative judgement. But with practice and effort, we can change the automatic negative call into a neutral or even positive assessment.

Feeling, Emotion and Intuition – Part II

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Why would it be important to understand the difference between feelings, emotions and intuition? Let’s see:

man2I had a difficult face-to-face discussion with my ex-wife last night and this morning when I woke up I felt a tightness in my stomach and a sense of general uneasiness. I was having definite feelings about the previous night. My feelings, as they always do, told me that there is something that needs to be dealt with- something out of balance, something that I have become or continue to be aware of.

I sat with the feelings for a minute and realized that I was sad, and disappointed and angry – I was creating emotions in an effort to deal with the feelings I was having. As I tried to sort it out, I realized I was disappointed because my story was “I had really hoped it would be different this time. I had hoped to walk away having a wonderful conversation that helped us reconnect as former partners.” I was creating my anger (angering) with my thoughts “Shit, can’t she ever just make things easy. This is just too hard. I hate feeling this way.” Sadness was accompanying my thoughts that, ”I really do love her and it’s just too bad we can’t work this out. I wish life were just easier sometimes.”

Knowing I have some control over my emotions, I began to ask, “What emotions would I like to be creating?” Sadness was fine with me, and even the disappointment, but I do not like being angry very long. Realizing that an emotion is tied to a story, I began to tell myself the story of forgiveness to replace the story of anger.  (‘We are both doing the best we can. Life is hard and she is hurting and feeling scared. I don’t need to answer anger with anger.”) Knowing what emotions I was creating helped me see how I was dealing with the situation what my other choices were.

Finally, since I was out of balance, I used my intuition to make contact with the universal energy which felt large and safe and supportive of my efforts at forgiveness. I was able to be in the presence of the goodness of the universe, a truly loving energy. Like being held by a loved one, or sitting quietly with an old dear friend; I felt calmer and more at peace. Balance was returning.

That’s why!

Gifts & Challenges

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I’m single by choice . . . just not my choice (Best line ever from a movie — thank you Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) Because of my single life there are many choices, challenges and obstacles that I face ALONE.

For instance, recently I moved from the east coast to Denver, the biggest leap I had ever taken since leaving home at age 18 and going to college. When I left home at age 18 however,  I entered a community of my peers. There were many other college students facing the very same challenge that I was. Now, many years later I was plopped into Denver where people already had established their life with their peeps, tribe, gang, or what ever you choose to call it.

If I had a mate, I figured to myself, it would be easier for me to go places, engage in activities, and hike in the glorious Rocky Mountains. Even if I never connected with another person, at least I would have my mate as my companion. Because I’m single I am reluctant to dive into these activities fearlessly. And because I have yet to establish my gang, I don’t have anyone I can ask to join me. I’m faced with doing things alone or not doing them at all.

These are the challenges I presently face in my life. What are yours?

Several years ago I learned something very helpful from a Montessori teacher. Her wise lesson keeps me from falling into a deep hole of self-pity or singing the blues longer than necessary. Let me share in the hope it may help you.

All people experience gifts & challenges in life. No one has a life filled with only challenges, one difficulty or hardship after another. Nor does anyone have a life filled with only gifts. Despite how it may appear on Facebook, no person is able, capable or living a life without bumps and disruptions with sad times and difficulties along the way.

Living a solo life as a woman “of a certain age”is a challenge. At the same time, this is also a gift. I get to do or not do what I want when I want. No one talks with me about money and the worry of money. At the same time, there is no one with whom to share my money plans and worries. Do you see how this may be both a challenge and a gift?

What are your challenges? What are your gifts? What are the areas in your life that represent both challenges and gifts?

Today is the perfect day for you to start counting these gifts and challenges to improve your Mental Health & Happiness. With your lists a perfect plan for improvement may emerge.

Balance and Harmony in the Cross of Life

By Dr. Ken Larsen

I first hecrossoflifeard 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 crossoflife2“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.