Tag Archives: creativity

The Creative Mind (Part 2)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC


Many people have learned to use their creative thoughts and behavior to resolve any frustration or unhappiness that comes their way.  They use their creativity to overcome their sadness and depression, anxiety, anger, and to deal with important people in their lives that matter to them.  There are also those who use their creativity to resolve conflict with others in ways that may only slightly ease their unhappiness and frustration but cause other problems in doing so.  We see these behaviors manifested in such ways that are being called, Obsessive Compulsive, relying and becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol, anxiety attacks, mood swings (Bipolar), and other behaviors that seem unusual or “crazy” to anyone who witnesses these behaviors.   Others don’t often see what another person is facing with their frustration and unhappiness.  Nor do they understand that the person’s odd or unusual behavior is serving the purpose of easing that frustration and unhappiness, even if it is only slightly, and created as a result of their “Creativity.”  You can hammer a nail with just about any other hard object if you don’t have a hammer.  Using something other than a hammer is a person’s creativity to get a desired result.  Unusual behaviors are creative behaviors utilized by those who haven’t created a more effective tool to ease their frustration.

Our creative abilities allow for our general happiness.  Some create effectively and others create maladaptive behaviors because it’s all they created at the time.  Our creativity can get us out of many unhappy situations without the need for counseling or therapy or prescription drugs.   Those who have created ineffective behaviors to resolve their unhappiness are diagnosed and judged as someone needing psychiatric help in the form of “brain meds.”  These types of medications inhibit a person’s natural ability to be creative and to be able to create ways to resolve their unhappiness.

When you have weird or strange dreams at night or even dreams that make sense . . . that is your brain being creative.  So if you have dreams that don’t make any sense, does that mean you’re mentally ill?  If your brain is capable of creating when you are asleep, it is also capable of creating when you are awake.

CREATIVITY . . . it’s behind most of our choices of behavior . . . logical and illogical.

The Creative Mind (Part One)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC


Creativity can be found in all of us.  Many people consider creativity to be limited to the ability to make something materialistic, or to express one’s self in art, cooking, inventing, writing, or music.  While these things certainly require creativity, creativity is not limited to talent in those areas alone.   Everyone uses creativity each and every day of their lives for many different things.  We rely on creativity based upon the knowledge that we already possess about specific things, logic, and willingness to go beyond our knowledge.  We use creativity to make decisions that are primarily designed to result in happiness or pleasure.  We use creativity to solve or resolve problems in business, discussions/arguments, and in our relationships.

All we do, each and every day of our life is behave.  We choose our behaviors to satisfy our needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  When any of these needs are not being met to our desired level of satisfaction, it is human nature to rely on our creativity to satisfy and maintain those unmet needs.

If you have ever watched Naked and Afraid on cable TV, then you have watched individuals using their creative skills to satisfy their survival needs.  In relationships, we tend to put our best food forward when we first meet someone.  Behaving in a manner to cause another person to hopefully be drawn to you in a relationship relies on creativity for love and belonging needs.  Musicians, Artists, Chefs, Writers, Dancers, Educators, Athletes, and Inventors rely on creativity to be appreciated, helpful, competitive, to win, and to be respected as a result of their creative abilities.  These are ways of satisfying power needs.  Investing wisely for the future, making decisions and planning ways to free one’s self from confinement or from poor relationships relies on creativity.  Planning events, vacations, learning, and recreating requires creativity to make these things happen.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and you just couldn’t come up with the things you wanted to say at the time in order to make a point?  That’s a silly question.  We’ve all done this.  Later, after the discussion or argument is over and both have gone separate ways, you continue to use your creativity thinking about it and suddenly you come up with whatever it is that you wish you had said or done during the discussion.   “I should have said . . . . “or “I should have done . . . .”  That’s creativity.

Here’s an exercise to utilize your creativity:  You wake in the morning and notice that it’s raining and you have a flat tire.  This is surely a frustrating situation.  So what will you do?  Some would say, “I’d change the tire by jacking it up and putting the spare on.”  But what would you do if you had loaned the jack to your neighbor several months ago and he never returned it?  “I’d go next door and get it back.” But he left for work an hour ago and no one else is at home.  “I’d call a friend to come get me to take me to work.”  S/he’s already gone and at their place of work.  “I’d call a cab to take me to work.”  These are examples of creativity.   Some may not use their creative skills very much and say, “I’d go back to bed.”  There are even more examples to this scenario that I could add but you get the idea.  Creativity is being used to overcome a frustrating situation.  With each creative endeavor that fails, another creative method is created until one of them eventually satisfies the frustration and need.

Creative Endeavors

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN


Are you a creative person?

If you answered no to that question, what is your evidence? Do you point to the lack of artwork you have produced, or claim there is no original song or lyric that you composed? Perhaps you have never designed a building or the interior of any space, including the interior space of a book.

All of this may be true, and yet there is no doubt that you are a creative person.

For instance, what have you done today? What else do you plan to accomplish this week? Is anyone else on the planet going to experience their day exactly the same way you are? This is all of your own making based on  your moment to moment decisions, accomplishments, and creations.

The problem for many of us when considering the question of being or not being a creative person is the limited definition we give to the idea of creativity. Please take a moment and realize that not only are we creative, we are incredibly creative. Our creation starts with how we begin our day and continues with each choice we make. These choices include what we will wear, to what we eat, to what we say. All of these choices are from our own design and creation.

Even if you wear a uniform, not everyone in your school, hospital, military troop, or company looks exactly the same even if everyone is following the dress code. Originality, uniqueness and creativity is at the root of these differences even when they are subtle.

singingWhat has creativity got to do with Mental Health & Happiness? Some claim that spending time in creative endeavors is what feeds our souls. Glaser’s need for fun can be understood as our genetic instruction for play, creativity and expression of our originality. Mark Twain defined fun as the thing that you do when you don’t have to do it.

What ever you call it, which ever definition you abide by, spending time in creative endeavors significantly improves and maintains our good Mental Health & Happiness.

And yet there are some of you reading this who believe that you just aren’t creative. Let me invite you to approach this from a different angle.

Do you have any hobbies? Let me list a few and see if you can find something that resonates:

Gardening                                                                   Playing a musical instrument

Dancing                                                                       Doodling or noodling

Writing                                                                         Building

Sewing                                                                        Furniture arranging (and for some re-                                                                                                              arranging, and more rearranging)

Cooking                                                                       Knitting

Wood working                                                            Calligraphy

Story telling                                                                 Repeating movie dialogues

Amateur theater, including costume design, set design, etc

Table-scaping                                                             Pet training

Pet grooming                                                              Home staging

Get the idea? Any time you participate in any of these, including your own hobbies you are engaging with your creative endeavors. Your creativity does not need to be publicly acclaimed or acknowledge. Creative endeavors are all about the personal, internal joy, happiness and satisfaction you experience while participating.

Want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start noticing and acknowledging all the ways you are a creative person. You are an absolute original, inventing, re-inventing, creating and re-creating yourself every day. Talk about creative endeavors . . . !

Creativity & Madness

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

The 1960 movie, “The Magnificent Seven” was a box office hit staring Yul Brynner, playing the role of Chris Adams, and Steve McQueen, playing the role of Vin Tanner.  In one of the scenes, actor Eli Wallach, playing the role of Calvera, a Mexican bandit who was terrorizing a Mexican town’s inhabitants, asked Steve McQueen:

Calvera: What I don’t understand is why a man like you took the job (freeing the town) in the first place, hmm? Why, huh?
Chris: I wonder myself.
Calvera: No, come on, come on, tell me why.
Vin: It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, “Why?”
Calvera: And?
Vin: He said, “It seemed to be a good idea at the time.”

How many times have you found yourself having done something that afterwards you asked yourself, “Why the hell did I do that?”  Looking back on it, you are amazed that you would have chosen to have done such a thing.  Your thoughts might be:  “Boy, was THAT ever stupid,” or “I can’t believe I did that.”

I recall a time many years ago when I dove head first into a water fountain in the town’s roundabout while wearing a 3 piece suit.  I wasn’t in conflict or frustrated at the time.  I was merely under the influence.  Alcohol can make one really stupid. After landing on my head and sitting in a lot of water with blood running down my face, I never once thought it was a good idea at the time.  I just always wanted to do that after years of driving around that fountain for years.  However, I do recall thinking to myself after I did it, “What a (blanking) dumb thing to do.”But that’s not the kind of dumb choices I wish to describe.

I’m referring to the times when you were under extreme duress and felt like you had no place to turn.  A few examples might be:  Going through a divorce or breakup; losing a job with no prospects for work due to your age; the death of a child or some other loved one; feeling you can’t please someone who is putting demands or expectations on you; someone who is behaving in a way in which you disapprove; someone dear to you who is nagging, complaining, blaming, criticizing, threatening, punishing, or even bribing you to get you to do something they wanted you to do that you didn’t want to do or didn’t know how to do it.

The reason why you may have ever done something “crazy” was because, at the time, it seemed like a good idea.  When faced with a particular situation in which you have no prior experience, and after all your efforts to resolve it with all of the tools you have learned to use in the past have failed, you get creative. . .  you devise new ways to resolve your unhappiness that you have never used before.  Your unhappiness may be so frustrating that any new idea that you devise, regardless of how insensible it may be, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Everything you had tried, so far, was unsuccessful in making your perceived unhappy situation match the happy image of what you wanted in your Quality World.

When we run out of choices, we create new choices.  

Many times, we look back on those choices and say, “That was a really dumb thing to do.”  But at the time, in your frustration, it made perfectly good sense.  You had to try it.  You never thought of it before.   Maybe, just maybe, it would work.  Then to make it even worse when it failed, someone says to you, “Just what the hell were you thinking?” canstockphoto0527001

Being too embarrassed to admit to our perceived stupidity, we reply, “Sheesh.  I don’t know.  I must have been out of my mind,” to which the other person is more than happy to agree.  But now, we have an excuse.  We were temporarily out of our right mind and not stupid.

I am often asked, “what about those people who keep doing crazy things over and over, like Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, anxiety, depression, schizophrenic behaviors of hearing and seeing things that aren’t there?”  People do what works to ease their unhappiness, in some way or another, or they wouldn’t do them.  You just don’t see the how or the why of it.

These behaviors serve to ease their frustrations, even just a little bit, because they have learned that if they didn’t do them, their unhappiness and frustration would be much more intense than it is. Their seemingly crazy behaviors are the result of their creativity to find something that works.  All they know is that when they do them, they feel better than when they don’t do them.  Whatever their unhappiness or frustration is, it is something that is occurring right now, in this present time.  And if it has been a long term pattern of behavior, it will be found to have roots in an unsatisfying relationship with someone important to them.  Very few situations arise in our lives that lead to depression or anger that don’t involve conflict with someone important in our lives (including conflict with ourselves).

Remember your state of mind when you chose to do something that seemed like a good idea at the time that now, in retrospect, was totally out of character for you to have done?  More than likely, your frustration at that time didn’t last for any long term of several months or more and you got your senses back.  But think about the person whose frustration has been an ongoing for many months or perhaps years.  The behaviors that you see as mental illness in others are no different than the behavior you exhibited during your own frustration.  The only difference is that you may have found a more socially acceptable way to deal with it than they have.  While you may not hear voices, hallucinate, or shoot people, you may be depressing, anxieting, obsessing, bipolarizing, and/or resorting to drugs, alcohol, indiscriminant sex, gambling, or excessive spending.

Regardless of the behavior, it is still the result of a person’s creativity to deal with unhappiness and frustration of trying to control things that are beyond their control.  It will mostly be the result of an unsatisfying relationship with an important person in their life. When someone fails time after time to get their happiness needs met, they discover or create the first behavior that affords them some modicum of relief.

Once a person comes to the reality that there is nothing they can do to change another person and they eventually accept their situation as “it is what it is,” and by no longer trying to get what they can’t make happen; by no longer wanting what it is that they have been striving to make happen will they no longer have a need to rely on the behaviors they have developed to ease their frustration and unhappiness.

Who was/is the person with whom you were/are not having the relationship that you wanted to have when you jumped into the cactus patch?  You weren’t (aren’t) mentally ill.  You were/are not as mentally healthy as you could be. You were emotionally upset and seeking relief or resolution.  Since there is no medical, bio-pathological cause of what is being labeled as “mental illness,” there is no pharmaceutical cure for unhappiness.    Change what you want or change how you behave when you don’t get what you want.  There are no other successful or effective ways.


Happiness Improves With Grit

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Have you ever had a project or an idea that you were excited to see become a reality? How long were you willing to work hard without seeing any concrete positive results? Perhaps you’re the kind of person who only needs a little bit of evidence to reassure you that you are on the right track. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who throws up your hands in surrender if your first attempt results in failure followed by your second unsuccessful attempt to your last and final attempt. With failure number three your ambition and willingness to keep trying also evaporates.

What makes one person willing and able to hang in for the long haul while another succumbs to setbacks and quits in discouragement? What makes one person resilient and confident while another may not even have the psychological strength and sufficient belief to even take the first step and dream?

Some psychological researchers say the difference is grit. (Want to measure your grit? search for “Grit Survey”by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth if you want to find out your grit score). Dr. Glasser called it psychological strength. His 1976 book Positive Addiction explained not only what psychological strength is, but what we each could do to build and increase our psychological strength. With greater psychological strength we experience increased confidence, perseverance and creativity.

Could one of the side effects of increased psychological strength be increased grit? If you developed a greater capacity to pursue your long term goals with passion and perseverance would you increase your Mental Health & Happiness? Imagine feeling psychologically stronger, more creative and confident. Do you believe you would also feel happier and mentally healthier?

If you’re willing to give this a try, here is what you need to do (or continue doing, or modify what you are already doing.) Glasser’s recipe for building psychological strength, resilience, grit, and confidence include the following criteria:

  1. Non-competitive activity
  2. Can be done easily without worry about need to do it well or continually improving
  3. Can be done alone preferably (so that you remain non-competitive and non-critical).
  4. Believe this act will add to your life’s value, spiritually, physically, emotionally
  5. Believe that persisting in this activity will add to your sense of physical and psychological well being
  6. Can do it in a non-critical way

What you do is not as important as developing a daily diligent habit that meets the above criteria. To help inspire you below are some ideas:

Jogging           Praying                        Hit golf balls                Swinging a baseball bat
Meditating      Walking                       Hiking                          Gardening
Biking               Yoga                            Juggling                       Playing musical instrument
Singing             Painting                     Sand castle building    Cooking


By Dr. Nancy Buck

Do you keep a journal? Maybe you write in a  diary? Not the kind of diary that people in the US call a calendar and folks in the UK call a diary. I mean the kind that preadolescent and adolescent girls keep, locking it with a key that’s kept in a secret hiding place.

If this isn’t part of your daily practice, let me invite you to begin a wonderful habit worth cultivating for your Mental Health & Happiness. Even if you think this may not be for you, give it a try for 30 days before you completely dismiss the possibility.

There are many different ways you can keep a journal. Your journal can keep your thoughts, experiences and learning from the daily Mental Health & Happiness challenges if you are participating.  Your journal may not be words at all, but doodles and drawings. You may prefer a combination of the two. Perhaps you are reading a daily contemplation or prayer book. You could journal about your thoughts and experiences inspired by your daily meditation or prayer. Or maybe you read a daily blog or book of inspirational quotes. Why not add that to your daily journaling experience.

Happily, there is no right or wrong way to journal. What you want is to discover your own way. There are more than a few books, blogs and articles you might find useful to help you find your own personal journaling practice. Let me share two of my favorites:

Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way advocates writing three morning pages where you dump all of you unhappy complaints and grumps that are circling in your brain. Eventually what may emerge are your deeper thoughts, feelings and ideas. This is the one that launched me into my practice. Another example I highly recommend are all of the books by SARK. These “books” really read more like a glimpse into her journals that include ideas in words and drawings.

Journaling is a habit worth starting. Not only will you be cultivating your creativity, you will also be learning about yourself and developing an improve relationship with yourself. You may also develop a more loving relationship with the greater worlds, both inside and outside or your skin.

If you give this a try and your Mental Health & Happiness don’t improve at the end of 30 days, perhaps you will decide this practice isn’t for you. Or perhaps you will decide, as I did, that hanging in there for another 30 days might be worth the effort. Before you know it you just might have developed a new, effective and helpful practice.

Play your way to Mental Health & Happiness

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Not long ago I had the privilege of observing a mother and her two young children grocery shopping. One child was strapped into the carriage seat. The other looked to be age 5-years or so. This amazing mother walked down one aisle of the store, looking for her needed items. Then she paused, took the baby out of the seat standing him next to the carriage, and all three of them began to “boogie” to the piped in store muzak. The session didn’t last too long, but wasn’t just a moment either. It was amazing! I continued to follow them up and down a couple of more aisles just to watch. Their same practice continued. Sometime the Mom felt inspired for some twists and jig steps. Sometimes it was one or the other of the children. But whoever felt the urge and the beat got to call a “dance” time out to incorporate play into their chore. They were all in great joy and bliss. I’m only sorry now I didn’t go and join them. They were so happy in their own private dance party in the grocery store.

Recently I read about a new aerobic exercise created by a New Yorker. He was inspired observing another fellow. This guy was “plugged into” his music and danced along the streets of New York. Our inventor recognized the perfect kind of aerobic activity for him. He started practicing that very day, carrying a boom-box on his shoulder so others could hear his music and beat. Sometimes he met people walking along the same sidewalk with him and they would join him in the dance. Other times he was alone, happy to be dancing and singing! I’m ready to give this a try on the streets of Denver, Colorado!

Can you imagine your work day including breaks where dancing and singing, sitting on the floor and eating cookies and milk with your friends, and playing outside is the norm? Can you imagine how refreshed you would be to return to your work following any one of these breaks? Your productivity and creativity would grow exponentially, as long as you could avoid any feelings of embarrassment or inhibition about your playful behavior in front of your colleagues.

If you want to improve you Mental Health & Happiness play more. Your play does not have to include dancing only. You can sing. You can juggle. Ask a friend/colleague to play catch with you using a balloon, helium or no. Learn to ride a unicycle. Start singing like Elvis, or any other singing hero you desire to imitate.

Let a 4-year old be your guide. In fact, go visit a preschool and watch how they spend their days. We need to incorporate more dancing, singing, marching and snack time with friends into our daily routines too.


By Michael Rice

All we do from birth until death is behave.  And all behavior is chosen for the purpose of satisfying happiness or pleasure.  — Dr. William Glasser

 Are you a human being or a human doing?  Reacting or responding? 

There are those who simply function on automatic pilot . . . behaving the same way day in and day out.  The have found comfort in their routine:  Rise in the morning, coffee & breakfast, groom for work, go to work, do their job in the same daily manner, go home, deal with the kids and have the last word, interact with the spouse if married, prepare and/or have dinner, watch TV to relax, and go to bed only to start all over the next day.  If single, they might isolate other than associating with coworkers and/or customers.  You know . . . Groundhog Day.  If nothing changes . . . nothing changes.


Weekends may be open for shopping, housework, etc but basically, it is the only break from the weekly routine they have.  If asked if this particular lifestyle is how they want to live for the rest of their lives, most would deny the offer.  Yet, days, weeks, and years go by without them doing anything that could effect a change in life for the better or towards how they would like their lives to be.  It’s almost as if they are thinking, “if I keep doing what I’m doing, something good will eventually come along ,” or “an opportunity will present itself” that will afford them the life they only dream of having.

Regardless of the thought process or the lack of action to improve one’s life, it will always be a choice to lack action or think creatively to make life better.  There are those who have become comfortable in both an uncomfortable situation as well as feeling comfortable “enough” rather than exert any further energy or efforts to improve their comfort level.  Like the hound dog story in a previous article, “They ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

If the effort required to attain the desired results is perceived as not being worth all that it may take to achieve it, why bother?  Our desires are found within our genetic Basic Needs.  Inasmuch as we have to learn our basic needs, and that nature does not automatically account for them as our other genetic traits, one word comes to mind as an umbrella that covers all of these needs:  Creativity.


Creativity is like a drug.  In fact, creativity produces the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine that gives pleasure not unlike alcohol or other drugs.  Ironically, it is alcohol and other drugs that eventually destroy creativity.  The greatest inventors of the world thrived on creativity as well as surrounding themselves with other creative people.  The largest financial titans of the 20th century and those of today got where they are through creativity.  However, I must admit that some of them had a major financial helping hand before they started.  But even with that being said, they still needed to have creativity to go beyond their starting point.

The human mind is very creative but so few take advantage of it or fail to associate with other creative minds that may lead to exciting things to do, live, love, and enjoy.

Creativity is the joy and art of living.  Reflect and recall the last thing you accomplished that required your creativity.  It may have be your home decorating, music, art, gardening, cooking, an invention, a literary piece, a presentation, an idea that was successful in business or you’re career.  What emotion did you have at the time?  You may even feel good at this very moment while remembering it.  Do you like that feeling?  Do you want to feel like that more often? 

Share it with someone important in your life.  A sorrow shared is half a sorrow.  A joy shared is twice a joy.

Now . . . do something else creative.

Meeting a frustrated need for freedom with creativity

Getting our needs met is part of mental health and happiness.

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Dr. Glasser explains that when we are not getting what we want in a situation, we look for a behavior to make an adjustment.  This usually occurs when one of our basic needs is being frustrated.  He encourages us that if we don’t have a learned behavior to deal with the problem, our  brain’s creativity will often provide what we need.  Recently I discovered how true this can be.

I was at one of our local warehouse retailers.  I had run in to pick up a couple of items, leaving my wife outside in the car.  I wanted to get in and out of the store quickly.  I found what I wanted and was headed to the checkout counter when this bubbly young lady jumped in front of me and held out some sort of cleaning device.  I was protesting verbally and non-verbally that I wasn’t interested.  She continued to thrust the item into my hand proclaiming that it wouldn’t bite me.  When I could not not takesale what she was pushing into my hands, she got a little satisfied look, evidently thinking she had overcome my sales resistance by getting me to accept what she offered.  She then began to get into her sales pitch.  The item was evidently some sort of floor cleaning device.  “What kind of floors do you have?” She asked with her charming smile and bubbly manner.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I did want to escape, so without a second thought I blurted in reply.  “Wall to wall.”  She was expecting me to say hardwood or carpet.  She didn’t know what to do with “wall to wall floors.”  Taking advantage of her dismay I handed the item back to her, smiled, recovered my freedom, finished my business and left the store to rejoin my wife.

I later told this story to a friend, marveling at how that simple unrehearsed response “wall to wall” enabled me to meet my need for freedom in that situation without unduly distressing the young sales girl.  Dr. Glasser had been right.  The creativity of my brain had provided what I needed in that circumstance.  Getting our needs met without depriving others of getting their needs met is part of mental health and happiness.