Tag Archives: challenge

“Tomorrow is another day,” Scarlett O’Hara

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I recently went through the grueling process of purchasing a home. This is actually the fourth time in my life I’ve been lucky enough to be able to purchase a home. But this time was very different from the last.

I don’t know if the challenges this time were due to the size of the loan, the new parameters since the mortgage housing scandals that led to tighter and more rigorous standards, or the fact that there were multiple people applying for the loan. But I think Rumpelstiltskin had it easier when he changed straw into gold.

At two different times during this process the deal was declared officially dead.  The first time we were told we needed to bring more money to the table. Amazingly each of us who were involved in the deal were able to “find” more money. The deal was revived!

Miraculous! Phew, we were alive again.

Weeks later when we were just yards from the finish line the whole thing fell apart again!


canstockphoto13026221Dreams were dashed again only this time it felt worse. We had come so far, had overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, pushed, persevered, and worked really hard. And in one moment it all vanished!

But this second time I waited before I fell into the depths of despair.

This roller coaster ride had taught me some new lessons.  I was determined to put these new strategies into practice.

I had already used my time-tested and well used strategy of crossing and uncrossing my fingers. In fact I had used this so often I was beginning to develop callouses on my fingers.

This time I tried something I had only used a very few times in my life.

I gathered facts. I left out all emotional information surrounding the facts. I simply wanted the facts.

What I learned was that there was a chance that the deal could be completed. In six days we would have a definitive answer. In six days we would know if the deal was alive or dead.

This was the information I held onto. I did not wish or hope, worry, barter or demand. I simply repeated the factual information. Holding onto and repeatedly reviewing the facts kept me from soaring into wild hopes or falling into depths of despair. We would know the outcome, the results and the answers to what was presently unanswerable in six days or less.

Every time I found myself wondering, worrying, hoping or wishing, I went back and simply repeated the facts.

I also made a conscious choice to think about the whole deal less. I repeated the facts, and knew there were five more days, four more days, and so forth until I would have the final answer. And any time I found my mind wondering, worrying, or hoping I reminded myself to change my thinking to some other subject, topic or question.

I made a conscious decision to postpone my celebratory dance of joy, or my upset, anger and disappointment until I had facts to verify either reaction.

In the end we were able to celebrate, sing and dance with joy and offer prayers of thanks.

In addition, I learned a very important lesson for my Mental Health & Happiness. Gathering factual information rather than relying on my emotionally tainted information was a new, very helpful strategy. Using facts and data rather than impression, instincts and intuition alone keeps my well being intact as I experience my life’s speed bumps that upset my balance.

With this new strategy added to my other coping skills I believe I will handle the next of my life’s challenges with greater personal strength, wisdom and grace.

Choose Confidence

Contributed by Iris Benrubi

I arrived back home after my 3 day training in San Diego to find that my car wouldn’t start. I had it towed to the dealership and borrowed my son’s manual car for the day . I’ve driven many manual cars over the years so that was not an issue. I was a little concerned about driving my son’s car for the day though. He takes VERY good care of it and I was a little nervous not to do anything that would scratch, ruin or simply take a toll it’s road worthiness and shine.

Have you ever had one of those discussions in your head?

I was actually having a conversation with my son in my head and this is how it went. “Mom, why are you driving like that. You’re not driving smooth”, to which I replied “I’m worried about keeping your car in great shape and I don’t feel so confident so I’m holding back just a little’

The next moment I had the thought:

“What if I just chose being confident?”

I truly thought that was a brilliant idea because I could see that in that moment, I had a choice in front of me. What if I could just choose being confident while I was driving instead of being scared and holding back? …..and you know what? I chose being confident and my driving totally changed. I wasn’t second guessing anymore. I was shifting gears smoothly, trusting myself to change lanes when needed and to gear down with ease when traffic slowed. This felt like I was a new person behind the wheel. Then I got to thinking, where else do I hold back?

What if I could choose ‘being confident’ in any area of my life?

What would that be like? My challenge to you this week is to look at your behaviour and see where you hold back. Where do you not feel confident or trust yourself fully? My challenge is for you to choose an area in your life where you can:

Choose to be confident right NOW!

……..and notice how your behaviour changes. You might even notice that people around you respond differently when you choose to be confident. How would your career be impacted if you chose to be confident?

How would your love life be different?

Where would you be standing up for yourself? Where would you be setting healthier limits?

To learn more about learn more about Iris, please go to http://irisbenrubi.com/

It can be done! Trust yourself!

Laughter is the best Medicine

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I don’t know if it’s the season of the year, my aging age group, the present zodiac constellation with everyone’s Mars in retrograde, or simply random moments coinciding, but something is going on in my world. Too many of my family and friends are experiencing challenges with their health and physical well being. For example: one friend’s husband of many years is finally recovering from a life-threatening illness. Another friend is watching her parents’ health and lives decline. Still another was in a serious accident breaking both of her ankles.

                                    A merry heart doeth good like a medicine — Proverbs 17:22

Knowing that all of the magic wands I own would not provide the immediate help or cure, instead I offer my love and support. And I continue to seek the opportunity to find humor and bring laughter.

A good laugh heals a lot of hurts — Madeline L’Engle

Several months after my father died and my mother was recovering from a heart attack I listened to the audio version of the best book for my Mental Health & Happiness: Sweet Potato Queens by Jill Conner Browne. I laughed out loud listening to the author’s sweet, mellow southern accent read the outrageous descriptions in her book. When one of my sisters was suffering from the same deep grieving I loaned her the audio book telling her she had to go to bed and listen, staying there until she had laughed out loud three times before getting up again. Our grief was still central in our lives, but the laughter had given us temporary relief and healing.

Laughter opens the lungs, and opening the lungs ventilates the spirit — Unknown

In his highly acclaimed and well known book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins states, “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” At the time the medical community was skeptical although his readers were inspired. Now, thirty years later there are more than a few who are researching and validating Cousins’ personal discoveries.

Your body cannot heal without play.

                                    Your mind cannot heal without laughter.

                                    Your soul cannot heal without joy. — Catherine Ruppenger Fenwick

Are you facing some challenges, tough or hard times, or a moment of grief in your life right now? Perhaps it’s time for you to purposely pursue laughter. As I did research to write this blog I found a website, www.laughteryogaamerica.com where I also found my smiles and laughter. There were more than a few websites and YouTube videos that can also assist if you need. laughingdog

To improve your Mental Health & Happiness for now, absorb these last two quotes.

Earth laughs in flowers — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people — Victor Borge

Emotional Self-Defense

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN


As a thirteen year-old girl, I was threatened, mocked and bullied by an older girl (age fourteen) while her posse watched. As far as I knew I had done nothing to provoke this attack, yet on my walk to school or during play time with my neighborhood friends this tormentor would come from nowhere and start. Finally, one day I had had enough. I stood my ground and silently stood up to her. She brazenly walked up to me, slapped me across the face, and turned to walk away. I grabbed her hair in an attempt to bring her back. Much to my horror I pulled great clumps of her over-dyed and over-teased hair out of her head. Without skipping a beat, she walked to her friends and they all walked away. We never exchanged another glance, blow or word.

I wondered if I had triumphed? I was relieved that the teasing, intimidation and bullying stopped. At the same time I was not proud of having made an enemy and in such a violent manner.

During the years since my youth, I have had similar kinds of experiences. Luckily none have ended with a physical battle. I’m too often clueless about what I have done or do to provoke such anger and hatred. However I am old enough now to know that I am not just an innocent victim. What may be my well intended words could be perceived by the other as a threat or attack. With my added experiences and greater (?) wisdom, at least I know enough to offer an apology for what I may have done that has offended the other. Luckily, most times this helps to sooth hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Perhaps a friendship may not develop, but at least we end with better feelings toward one another.

Sometimes however,  there are a few who continue to attack, no matter what. The wonderful world of online encounters through Twitter, Facebook and other social media create many of these possible interactions.

Thanks to Dr. Peter Breggin I now know what to do. Did you hear him interviewed on our Mental Health & Happiness Summit? He offered a great deal of helpful advice and ideas to contribute to Mental Health & Happiness for us all. (Watch Dr. Peter Breggin’s inverview here:  http://www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com/2014/peter+breggin.html) And he also provided me with an incredibly helpful concept and skill.

We are each entitled to the right for unconditional emotional self defense. We can and should expect, demand and ask to be treated with respect and kindness.

The first time I interact and am attached by a person with whom I have had no prior history I will take a step back, literally if I can, or in my imagination if that is the only possibility. Closing my eyes I visualize surrounding myself with a clean and protective space. Some parents teach their children do this calling it the bubble of safety. Some people imagine stepping into a white light space of safety. It’s helpful to experiment and practice this skill before you get into a situation where you need to use your protective space.

Finally, I say, I have the unconditional right to emotional self-defense. I am entitled to be spoken to with respect. I offer you this same respect. 

For me the results have been amazing. Occasionally I am bullied on Facebook. This practice has helped me to stand up for myself without attempting to externally control the other person or bully back. On Facebook I make this statement slightly differently: If you can speak to me respectfully I welcome your thoughts and comments. Otherwise, please leave me alone. 

I’m actually looking forward to the next time I need to practice this skill face-to-face with a someone. Learning this strategy has greatly improve my Mental Health & Happiness.

Who Owns the Problem?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

The first time I heard this question asked I felt a new level of understanding open within me.

Before this question came into my life, I had found that when a problem arose one of two things resulted:

  • One was the reflexive reaction to find someone or something to blame.  Dr. Glasser defined this process clearly with the “Seven Deadly Habits.”
  • If someone or something could not be found to blame, then, too often I would take on the burden and blame myself.

deadlyhabitsThe problem with this kind of thinking is that the energy that could be used to solve the problem is being dissipated in the “blame game.”

As I pondered this question I came to see that “owning” the problem is simply taking responsibility.  It does not necessarily assign fault.  In his book “Reality Therapy” Dr. Glasser made the simple statement that we could replace the words “mental health” with “responsibility”.

“Owning” the problems that are the inevitable challenges of life is simply realizing our own power to choose the course of action that will be most helpful.

supportinghabitsSometimes we encounter situations where we personally don’t “own” the problem, but are aware of the someone who does.  Once again we have a choice as to how we think about and relate to the other person owning the problem.  Do we lapse into the “7 Deadlies”?  or have we accepted our own “response-ability” to apply one or more of the “7 Caring habits” in support of the other person?

Next time you are faced with one of life’s challenges, ask yourself the question, “who owns the problem?” And then use your “response-ability” to make the necessary choices.



Making Dreams Come True

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?    —  Happy Talk from South Pacific 

People who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes as the people who don’t, according to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech. 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals. Sixteen percent do, but they don’t write them down. Less than four percent write down their goals and fewer than one percent actually review them on an ongoing basis. The one percent are the most likely to be successful in goal attainment.

What’s a goal? A dream! Choice theory psychology explains that our dreams and our goals are the quality world pictures we have of how we want to meet our needs. These dreams, or pictures are based on our experiences of what is actually need fulfilling. But they don’t have to only e based on reality and experience. Our quality world pictures are also what we hope and expect will be need fulfilling for us in the future. In other words, dreams. We don’t need to limit our dreams to what is possible or realistic.

Glasser, in his many books and articles explaining choice theory psychology stated that our motivation comes from inside of each of us. Our behavior is our constant attempt to satisfy one or more of the five basic needs, for safety, love, power, fun, and freedom. Everything we do is initiated by our urge to satisfy our pictures, dreams, goals.

goals_desiresOne of the challenges we each face, however, is that we often want more than one thing at the same time. As you sit reading this blog you may also be aware of your goal to get to work on time, or keep an important appointment, or some other goal you have for yourself today.

Not only does each of us have more than one dream, goal or picture we are aiming for, there may be other people in our lives who make demands and requests, distracting us toward our own goal. Because we probably have an equally important picture in our quality world of maintaining these connections and relationships we allow ourselves to be distracted from the constant and singular attempts toward only one dream.

What’s the solution?

Write down your dream or goal as specifically as possible. Dream bigger than is reasonable as “unrealistic expectations”led to our most profound discoveries and changes. (Think Steve Job’s impossible dream that every person would depend on a hand-held computer that could also be used as a phone, camera and video recorder.)

Aim for a balanced life where you are aiming for dreams in all areas of your life that are important: family, health, career, intimate relationship, education, hobby, spiritual life, finances, adventures or vacation, what else is important to you?

Create a 1 year, then 5 year, then 10 year plan so you know what dreams you are aiming for today, and what part of other dreams you are aiming for today.

Review, evaluate and adjust your dreams/goals as well as your progress regularly, if not monthly then at least with every change of season.

futurequoteCelebrate regularly! Celebrate your dream coming true, Celebrate your hard work as you continue to aim for a goal. Celebrate to inspire you to keep working, dreaming, learning, and living! Celebrate because you can!

Start today by writing down just one dream. If you don’t talk happy and you never dream,then you’ll never have a dream come true, Bloody Mary tells us in South Pacific.

Dreaming a dream, setting a goal, and working towards and for it ensures Mental Health & Happiness.


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


                        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.


By Kim Olver


Supporting is the second healthy relationship habit. When I talk about supporting, I like to use a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The true measure of a man (and I add or a woman) is not where [they] stand in times of comfort and convenience but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.” This means it’s easy to support people when they are doing what you want. It’s not as easy to support people when they are choosing things that cause you difficulty or pain.

I remember the day my youngest son, Kyle, came to me asking me to sign him into the US Army because he wanted to go fight the war in Iraq. The last thing in the world I wanted was to support this request! I had spent the last almost 18 years of his life keeping him safe (and he didn’t exactly make that easy), and now he was telling me he wanted to go where people would be shooting at him and trying to blow him up! No way!

However, because I valued our relationship, I knew I needed to look at how to support this decision. Kyle enlisting in the Army and going to war would cause a lot of worry and concern on my part. That is my problem, not his. I needed to support his decision and then look at what I was going to need to be all right during the time he would be defending our country.

I chose a couple of things. The first thing I did was turn off the television. I didn’t want to hear about every skirmish occurring in Iraq. The next thing I did was develop some new self-talk for myself. I told myself that even if the worst thing happens and Kyle is killed, at least I will know he died doing something he really wanted to do. I also told myself I had the opportunity to make the decisions for my life and now was the time for Kyle to make his. I stayed in close contact with his girlfriend. This helped me remember I wasn’t alone in my love for Kyle and supporting her helped me forget some of my own pain.

To date, this was the most difficult thing I have had to support but I am so glad I did. My son and I have a great relationship and he knows I know how to take care of myself regardless of the things he chooses to do.

What are some decisions you are supporting that challenge you?

Love’s Whisper

By Dr. Nancy Buck

It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life; it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power —    Robert T. Kiosaki

Want to build good self-esteem in your child and yourself?  Here’s how:

Every day ask yourself:  What’s good about me today?

Are you willing to self-evaluate and identify something in yourself that you like?  Remember, it is easier for our brain to identify what is wrong than what is right. Challenge yourself by asking this question.

See if you can answer on all dimensions: What is good about me physically? What is good about me emotionally? What is good about me intellectually? What is good about me spiritually?

Now how about asking the same question of your child? You might be surprised to find out he or she answers with some things that you hadn’t noticed or considered.

When a child lives with parents who have the ability to find their own personal treasures leading to good self-esteem children will follow this example. This is how you build your own personal self-esteem every day. This is the way you help your child do the same.