Tag Archives: change

Want to change your world?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

 

 We are going to change the world,” Bill Glasser told us. And the way we are going to change the world is to change how people think.                              

handholdingworld from Barnes Boffey’s keynote speech
WGI-US Conference- Las Vegas, Nevada, July 2015.

December 2012 the second major shooting massacre in US public schools occurred. I took this as my personal call to action to bring the ideas of mental health as a public health issue through Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology. This was the source to start Mental Health & Happiness. 

On November 5, 2014 we (WGI-US) launched this site and have posted a new blog every other day since then. (More than 600 blogs have been posted to date.) In January 2014 we started offering 21-day challenges where people are sent a new challenge 21 days of a 30-day month. These challenges teach people the ideas and principles of Choice Theory psychology including how to incorporate these strategies for improved Mental Health & Happiness.*

It is rewarding to hear all of the personal stories from so many people who are sharing their gratitude  and testaments of thanks. I am amazed and delighted to hear so many people who are working in prisons share how they are offering these challenges to prison inmates to improve their lives. People in private practice and counseling are also giving this website and these challenges as addendum sources to support and help clients in therapy. All of this has been extremely gratifying and rewarding. Dr. Glasser told us we could change the world by changing how people think. This website and the challenges are proving that this statement true.

Today, more than 20 months since the beginning of taking on this project an amazing thing has happened for me personally. What has amazed and surprised me is my own personal benefits. I am happier and mentally healthier today than I was before taking on this project!

Not only am I thinking about Mental Health & Happiness regularly as I contemplate a new blog to write, or a new challenge to offer, I’m also reading the blogs and embracing the challenges. Just as I fasten my seat belt every time I’m in a car, brush my teeth twice a day, make food and exercise choices that support my physical health every day I’m also making Mental Health & Happiness choices and exercises every day to develop, improve and maintain my Mental Health & Happiness!

I love it when a plan results in success.  The result of my daily choices changed and improved my life and my world! I hope you are experiencing the same kinds of result.

*You can now purchase these challenges as an ebook. Go to

http://www.mcssl.com/SecureCart/ViewCart.aspx?mid=B0892453-54D2-4C38-AD60-01638B065A7A&sctoken=5f4c9d6e9e57436881dd6e507149352f&bhjs=1&bhqs=1

You Made Me Do It

By Mike Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

If it rains, will the rain have an emotional effect on you?

Some of you may say, “Yes” and others may say, “No.”

Some may show emotions of anger, depression, disappointment, or even anxiety.  Others may welcome the rain and be happy, smile, or even be joyful over it.

Why the two different reactions?  It’s the same rain in the same city.

The difference lies with your perception of how the rain affects your plans or needs.  Personally, I love when it rains.  We get so little of it here in Arizona and it turns many things green and smells nice afterwards.

If your phone rings and you answer it, did the ringing make you say, “Hello?”  Have you ever not answered a phone when it rang?

When driving and you come to a stop sign or a red traffic light, did that sign or light make you stop?  Have you ever purposely run a red light or stop sign?

If you said “no” the phone didn’t make me answer it  and the stop sign/light didn’t make me stop, then you might be inclined to say that you were not controlled by those outside stimuli because you chose not to answer or stop . . . because you didn’t want to and you were aware of the possible consequences if you didn’t.  Your decision was a choice.

So why is it that when someone says something or does something that you DON’T agree with or like that you blame them for “making” you feel angry, disappointed, sad, or even fearful?  Conversely, why is it that when someone says or does something that you DO like you may react with laughter, happiness, or pleasure?  It all comes from within yourself based upon how you perceive the situation.  Is it meeting your wants and needs . . . or not?  If not, then you want to do something that will make the situation meet your wants or needs.  You take measures to control and change someone to do or believe what you want done or believe.  The other person didn’t “MAKE” you to try to control or change them.  You chose to do so.

How do you usually react when someone tries to blame, change, or control you?  Do you like it when that happens?  No?  Then what makes you think others will like it when you do it to them?

choice

When we get outside stimuli that matches what we want, need, or believe, we choose to react in a positive and cheerful manner.  I use the word “choose” because what some people may react to with positive cheerful behaviors may find others choosing negative and unhappy behaviors even though the outside stimuli is the same for both.  The only difference is the perception each person has about the outside information they received.  People can choose how they will respond.  If they want to feel miserable and unhappy and/or want you to know just how miserable and unhappy they are, they will show you with their behavior just as the happy and pleasant people would do with their different perception.

You, and only you, are the master of your emotions.  If you believe that others can control your emotions by the things they may say or do, you are actually giving up your own emotional control to someone else and giving them your power to control your emotions and behavior.

If you don’t want to feel angry or tense, or any other negative emotion, why would you choose to do so?  Choosing to remain happy or content is as easy as refusing to accept one’s offer for another cup of coffee when you don’t want any more.  It’s a choice.  No one is forcing you to have another cup just as no one is ever making you react in an unhappy manner except you.

We live in a world of criticism and judgment as well as those who will coerce us to do things we may not like or want to do.  They do so because they know we will give them our control.  If we don’t relinquish it, then they go away.  As the saying goes:  No one can walk over you if you don’t lie down.  You can’t control them and they cannot control you.  Allow others who think and behave differently than you to do and think as they please.  It is not your responsibility to change and control others to your way of thinking and doing nor is it the responsibility of others to, blame, change, or control you to their way of thinking and doing.

None of us can be all things to all people.  We cannot please everyone because we all have different wants and needs.  When someone blames, criticizes, or judges you without really knowing you, or if they don’t have all of the facts, their words and behavior are based on no more than their short-sighted perception and/or lack of information.  You will always have a choice on how to react to them.

Several years ago, when I was a married man, I had moved our family to AZ.  We purchased a home and bought a luxury car.  My wife wanted to drive the new car to the store so she asked me if there was anything that I wanted as long as she was out and about.  I requested that she get a jug of muriatic acid for the pool.  When she returned, I helped bring the groceries in and noticed the absence of the acid.  When I asked about it, she informed me that she had placed it  on the floorboard, behind the driver’s seat.

I shuddered to think what could have happened.  As I opened the back door of the car, my fears were confirmed.  The bottle of acid had fallen over and acid leaked out and had dissolved the carpet down to the bare metal of the floorboard.  When I asked her why she would place a bottle of acid in such a position as to ruin the carpet, she replied, “It’s your fault, not mine.”  Astonished, I repeated, “My fault?  How is it MY fault?”  She answered, “If you hadn’t asked me to get it, it wouldn’t have happened.”

In my dumbfounded expression to her response, I had a split moment to process what she had said.  It became clear to me, in that moment, that she was indeed correct.  Silly me for expecting her to have known better.

Before reacting to others, you may choose to give them more information and if this doesn’t work, you can always  (reframe your perception) decide that arguing or getting upset over the other person’s behavior or words are just not worth the effort or unhappiness and walk away or change the subject.  When discussing differences, ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say or do going to bring me closer to agreement with this person or will it drive us further apart?”  One doesn’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to come up with the correct answer that will result in the least resistance and unhappiness.

If someone were to call you a horse’s ass . . . that is merely their opinion.  However, if three or more people call you a horse’s ass, you may want to start shopping around for a saddle.  If this offends you, I hope you didn’t hurt your feelings.

 

 

Lessons from the garden

By Bette Blance, M.Ed Studies

About eighteen months ago we had a very large copper beech tree cut down.  It was a heart- breaking decision but it had been planted 40 years previously too close to the house.  Being a deciduous tree it lost its leaves every winter and during the year, several other ‘drops’ of  calyces and hard seed pods added to the clogging of the gutters and a roof that  was deteriorating.

I had always loved the view of the copper beech tree as the lower branches framed our bedroom window.  It was picture postcard view in all seasons.

Several things happened as a result of removing the tree.  A bed of roses alongside the house have now flourished and flowered magnificently during the spring and summer.

A large camellia tree came into full view and as the flowering season continued, it spread a carpet of bright pink petals below it.  I had not appreciated how beautiful this tree was until it stood there alone and proud, not crowded out by the copper beech. I had just not seen it. garden-bette

We sometimes focus on what we have lost and don’t see the other things that are already in our lives.  The lesson of letting go the copper beech was that the view changed and was replaced, when I chose to see it, by something equally as beautiful.

In life there are so many examples of how we cling to old things, hanker after things in the past and fail to notice what is good around us. We can spend a lot of time wanting something that no longer exists, whether it be a relationship or a that dream job, when we could be asking ourselves what is the miracle of what we have now.

In the words of Jeffrey McDaniel “I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”
 

Fears and Courage

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Dance like nobody’s watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Sing like nobody’s listening
Live like it’s Heaven on earth

Chances are good that there is something in your life that you would love to do but you’re just too afraid. Perhaps you really want to go to the beach but are afraid to be seen in your swimsuit. Or maybe you want to finally pursue running for a political office but talk yourself out of this action, claiming your’e just being arrogant. Or maybe it’s something more modest, like asking the person you’d like to get to know better to join you for coffee, but you fear rejection.

One of the reasons the above is such a popular poster is because it speaks to the fear we all feel. There are very few among us who do not feel held back in one area or another in life because of fears.

Our fear is actually biologically based. The amygdala in an old part of our brain deve- loped to scare us into staying safe, avoiding risks, dangers or potential adventures. Why? The basic need for survival means we stay safe, secure and alive, at least long enough to procreate so the species will survive. (Remember we’re talking biology here.)

However, the need for freedom and fun/learning comes from the newer part of our brain. These drives contribute to learning, adventuring, and expanding beyond what is known and safe with amazing outcomes for the species and for each person individually. Leaving the comfort of your home enabled you to meet more and different people. You may have discovered how to fly without an airplane by risking down-hill skiing or sailing. And all of our technological advances resulted from brave and courageous people going beyond the boundary of what is safe, secure and known. (Remember the stories you learned about scientist whose ideas were/are criticized for pushing beyond what was/is known?)

Do you consider yourself a courageous person? Being courageous does not mean being fearless. Courage means taking action, stepping forward and speaking up in spite of feeling afraid!

courage-risk_5970325

Whether you consider yourself courageous or not, the fact is that you are courageos!
How do I know? Because you could not be living as long as you are, changing, growing and developing to where you are now, without taking risks, accepting adventures and going beyond your previous boundaries. Yes, you may have been frightened. But despite the fear you did it anyway. Remember this the next time you feel too frightened to do something new. You are a successful, courageous adventurer already!

Start improving your Mental Health & Happiness today by taking a risk, accepting the next challenge, stepping into the unknown even though you feel afraid. Change the story in your head convincing you that:

you can’t do it, he/she/they won’t like you
you’re not good enough you might fail.

Start telling your self new stories like:

YOU CAN DO IT! YOU’LL LIKE YOU BETTER IF YOU TAKE A CHANCE!
FAILING ONLY COMES FROM NOT TRYING! GO FOR IT!
WHAT A GREAT ADVENTURE!

At first, you may need to counter balance your fearful thoughts with the new, bold thoughts. When you practice enough, you will start replacing the fearful with the courageous more automatically.

Improving your Mental Health & Happiness means you will be:

Dancing whether anyone is watching or not
Loving ferociously and fearlessly
Singing while you listen to your beauty
Living in Heaven here on Earth

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!

Pain is a powerful teacher

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

After falling to make a challenging tennis shot I was left bruised and shaken. My partner and I won the game but at what cost? I hoped that rest accompanied by alternating sessions of applying ice then heat on my injured arm would help me feel better. After a painful evening followed by a sleepless and painful night I knew I needed a different solution. I went to the doctor to discover I had broken my elbow and wrist in two places. Pain was a powerful teacher I could not ignore. 

pain

During my life not only have I experienced physical pain, I’ve also had my fair share of emotional, mental and spiritual pain. Just recently I had to put my 17-year old cat down. She was really my mother’s cat, but before my mother died she asked me to take care of Molly. The death of Molly was sad and hard. Not only was I losing my companion cat, I was also reminded of the sorrow and loss of my mother.

It has taken me a long time to understand that pain is not just part of my experience, but pain is a teacher. 

Prior to this realization, there were too many painful moments in my life that I treated as something to avoid, to relieve, to cover up or to cast off onto another so as not to feel the pain. After all, considering that pain is a teacher means that pain is my teacher offering me the opportunity to self-evaluate, learn, grow and change.

Wouldn’t life be easier if I could just cover up the pain by ingesting some legal or illegal pain reliever? The hope is that smoking enough cigarettes or dope, drinking enough alcohol or taking enough pills will diminish or temporarily mask  the pain. Sometimes this works but too often it doesn’t work well enough.  The pain still gets through. And, as too many people have discovered, there is the secondary pain that comes from using any one of these pain relievers too frequently. Now you’re stuck with two different kinds of pain: the pain from the original problem; and the cycle of pain that comes from using, abusing or being addicted to the pain reliever.

Perhaps the strategy of avoiding the source of the pain all together would work. This is often done in combination with deflecting the source of pain by blaming another person. How many times have your heard the story about a cheating partner? In an attempt to avoid the pain and avoid discussing his unhappiness, Jack decides to cheat. Of course now he feels even more pain compounded by guilt and shame of cheating on Jill even though  he experiences some temporary relief of enjoying the pleasure of a budding romance. If and when Jack gets caught, often he will blame his cheating choice on Jill’s indifference and distance from him. These attempts to avoid pain ultimately end with more and a different pain that needs to be addressed. Eventually this pain can also become a powerful teacher for those who are willing to learn from it.

Even though pain is a powerful teacher, not all of us are ready and willing to learn the lesson. For some of us the pain needs to get bigger and bigger, greater and greater, louder and louder before we consider change. And sadly, for some, their best solution to end their pain is to commit suicide.

However, a better solution when experiencing pain is to self-evaluate. Pain is a loud signal letting us know that we are out of balance. We need to take some positive action in order to get back into balance. Sometimes getting help is necessary, like when I went to the doctor for x-rays and he applied a cast to mend my broken arm. Sometimes it is necessary to spend some quiet time alone and listen to your own inner knower that directs you to apologize and work out your differences with a loved one..

Remember pain can be a powerful teacher not just an experience. When you open yourself to learning the lesson that pain can teach, you will improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

20 years’ experience or one year repeated 20 times?

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Self-evaluation is the key to Dr. Glasser’s approach to living a mentally healthy and happy life.  The focus of self-evaluation is enclosed in the questions:

  • What do you want?
  • Is what you’re doing working to get you what you want?

We’re all familiar with Einstein’s famous comment that the definition of insanity is repeating the same ineffective behavior over and over hoping for a different outcome.

This is where we ask ourselves if the past “x” number of years have been spent accumulating wisdom and life skills that help us get what we want?

Or have those years been spent repeating what doesn’t work and living in habits and beliefs that are not getting us what we want.

The common wisdom among those who practice Choice Theory is that if you’re not getting what you want, you can either change what you want, or change what you’re doing to get what you want, or both.

I like to think of life as a voyage.  As an amateur sailor, I’ve learned the importance of navigation.  The essence of navigation is to have a clear idea of where you want to go and a workable means to get there.  From time to time it’s not a bad idea to look back at the wake to see if we are sailing a straight course.  But we don’t get to where we want to be by looking back.

repeatingGetting our basic needs met is what we are steering for.  The choices we make provide the forward motion.  As with navigation at sea, it’s important to check our heading against our projected destination.  Is the course we have chosen going to get us to where we want to go?

In any voyage it is inevitable that mid-course corrections will need to be made.  That is a good thing.  We do the same thing in life on a daily basis.  If we stay aware of where we want to go, we can make the needed corrections when we see ourselves straying off course.

I wish you all “Bon voyage” in your journey.

Feeling, Emotion and Intuition – Part I

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

In trying to be someone who lives a genuinely happy and fulfilling life, I have found some help in understanding the differences between feelings, emotions and intuition. They are not all the same. I have more control over some and less control over others. Part of the difficulty in maintaining our mental health in this society is the way these words are used interchangeably and often inaccurately.

Feelings are impulses – sensations of energy and indicators of our system’s awareness of a perceived reality as we become aware of it. A feeling is almost indescribable except in terms of intensity; once we begin to name it we are into the area of emotions. Feelings are like electrical impulses that accompany awareness.

Let’s use an example. I come home after work looking forward to seeing my new puppy who I left in the cage when I left.  I open the door and see a torn up pillow on the floor. Seeing that pillow, I experience a feeling that something is wrong. It can be like being punched in the gut or just having a wave of sensation run through me, but the feeling accompanies the fact that I am now aware that something is wrong.

After we have a feeling, we begin to try to explain, describe or understand the phenomenon we are now aware of and we “tell ourselves a story” about what we perceive. The story we tell ourselves is what will determine our emotion. Our emotions are our own creations, dependent on the way we explain and perceive the phenomenon about which we are having feelings. As people, we generally have little control over our feelings and a great deal of control over our emotions.

puppy

In the case of the puppy, our emotion will depend on our “story.”  “That damn puppy..”- anger; or  “Looks like I got away easy, just a pillow”- gratitude; or “Great.. finally a good excuse to get a new couch” – happy.  The likelihood is that we will tell
a mix of stories and experience a mix of emotions, but we can always track an emotion back to a story. We create the story- we thereby create an accompanying emotion.

Intuition is the complex series of sensations we experience which indicate our connection to/relationship with/and awareness of a indefinable power in the universe. This universal power has an energy which can guide, instruct, support and assist each of us. A big determinant of our ability to access that energy and power is our ability to connect with it. Intuition is the channel through which we make that connection. The more we open up to the events and experiences that are part of the universal energy, the greater becomes our intuition.

This topic is obviously bigger than one blog’s worth, but beginning to understand what we are experiencing and why can help us make better and more accurate choices.

Crowded Closets…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

I was looking in my closet this morning.  I compared my side with my wife Sheren’s side.

cluttered closetMy side is crowded and cluttered making that favorite shirt hard to find.

Her side is neat and well organized with all items clearly visible and available.

What is the difference??

I keep everything.  Like Bill Cosby, I’ll keep wearing it until there’s nothing left but the elastic waist band.

She discards it if it hasn’t been used in a year.

neatclosetI’ve been seeing how important it is to let go of what is no longer useful or helpful in my walk through life.

Now I have to apply that realization to my closet.

Good Will, here I come!

Seriously, I think it is a good thing to take an inventory of our beliefs and behaviours from time to time.

Take a look at what is working.   We need to keep those beliefs and behaviours that help us make progress in getting our needs met and that help us stay close to those we love and care about.

At the same time, take a look at what is not working for us.  Do we find ourselves  repeatedly in undesirable situations?  Do we find ourselves not as close to loved ones as we’d like to be? Maybe some caring and careful self evaluation might be helpful.  There is much wisdom available, some of which was brought out in the Mental Health and Happiness Summit on October 10th.

We’ve learned that life involves a lifetime of learning.  And learning is not changing what you know as much as it is changing what you do.

Join me in cleaning out the closet.