Tag Archives: failure

Your New Year’s Resolve

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We are close to the end of January, the month that many of us decide to make life changes and resolve to improve habits, thoughts and tendencies. How are you doing?

Anybody feel like your motivation is waning? Is the excitement you felt as you anticipated changing your life for the better harder to call on? Are you finding it more difficult to get going or to keep going in your new direction? Is it too easy to find an excuse or reason to slide backwards instead of continuing forward?

Let me offer some thoughts and advice to help:

Change is never easy!

Our usual patterns and behaviors are well worn paths and organized patterns in our brain. Any time anyone does anything new it’s harder than the old way.

For instance, how many times this year have you written or typed 2015 instead of 2016? You got into the automatic pattern of of writing 2015 after you practiced enough times. It’s going to take time, thought and practice for you to be able to write 2016 automatically.

This small habit that you changed in 2014 has only been part of your life for a year. And yet  you practiced this habit enough so that now it takes concentration, thought and time to change. This habit is in an area that is not very important in your life. And still the old habit sticks making it harder to start the new habit.

When you are attempting to change another area in your life, an area that has been your habit and practice for years, it’s going to take a lot more time, practice, concentration and forgiveness when you fall back on old habits. It is not easy to change any organized, automatic behavioral habit. Add patience, kindness and self-forgiveness as you go through the process of changing any habit you have been practicing for a long period of time.

Resolve to start doing something, not stop doing something!

If your New Year’s Resolution describes eliminating a behavior you are headed for failure unless you add what you are going to do instead.

Choice Theory psychology explains that all behavior is purposeful, even those nasty and unpleasant habits you want to change. The purpose of ALL behavior is our best attempt to act on the world in an attempt to get what we want to more effectively meet our needs. Even though the habit you want to change is not ultimately helping you be the person you want to be, it is helping some, meeting some need slightly. This is why you continue behaving as you do because it works!

(Maybe it doesn’t work well, or maybe it works for one thing and interferes with another; people who worry that they will gain weight if they give up smoking cigarettes, for instance.)

canstockphoto0012473Rather than resolving to stop doing something, resolve to start doing something. If you simply resolve to stop yelling at the other drivers on the road, what will you do the next time a driver cuts you off, or turns without using his blinker, or passes you on the right?

You’re still going to have the urge to yell, swear, or honk your horn. However, if you resolve to say loudly with feeling, “I bless you (or thank you if you prefer) as we to travel together safely on our journeys” you have a much greater chance at succeeding with your resolution. You don’t have to mean it with loving kindness. Just shout the loving and kind words, changing your road rage slightly.

Whenever there is a difference between what we want and what we are getting we have an urge to do something. And for many drivers that something is to shout angry words, flash finger digits and honk the horn. With your new resolution you are probably still going to encounter annoying and irritating fellow drivers. You will still have the urge to rage. So resolve to transform your anger into gratitude and thanks. You will be doing something. And you will have transformed the something you do.

Keep your BIG picture desire, dream or wish in mind when your motivation starts to droop

Remember why you’ve decided to stop eating all the white things (flour, sugar, salt)? You want to feel healthier and have more energy. Keeping this in mind can be useful and helpful when you are faced with a hot-out-of-the-oven, freshly baked biscuit.

Remember why you’ve decided to join the local athletic club and work out more? You want to be able to play with your children, bending, stretching, getting down on the floor with them and getting back up again, playing tag and all the other glories of play. Remember this the next time you wake up earlier than you want because you promised yourself you are going to the gym this morning, not rolling over to sleep just fifteen more minutes.

Remember why you’ve decided to call your brother every week, even for a quick hello and catch-up chat? You want to connect regularly and frequently instead of letting your relationship drift apart. Keeping this in mind on those days when calling feels like a chore and an inconvenience.

You chose this New Year’s Resolution because you have a picture in your head of what you want. Go back and look at this picture regularly and frequently to keep your motivation high and constant.

May you keep practicing your New Year’s Resolution
bringing you greater Mental Health & Happiness!

Pain, Wisdom and Resiliency

By Barnes Boffey

People who hope that life will be filled with only smooth moments and pleasurable events are actually working against their own happiness. We should be praying not for smooth roads, but for the strength and resiliency to handle those roads in ways that will allow us to be proud, strong and successful. A life well-lived will have its share of tragedy, sadness, failure and struggle. Mental health is a reflection of our ability to face these events with clarity and strength, and to cope with them in reasonable ways within a reasonable amount of time.


As parents  should be praying that our children do have difficulty in school and with friends, and in groups and in situations where they are trying something new. We obviously don’t want these difficulties to crush them, but without difficulties as children, they can never learn the resiliency needed in later life. People whose roads are too smooth learn to expect that smoothness, and then when life throws it’s inevitable curve ball, they are knocked off balance and unable to understand what has happened or what to do.

Many of us aspire to be wise in our older years, looking at the lessons of life and being able to abstract thoughful lessons about the meaning of life and how to thrive as human beings. Wisdom does not come from success. Wisdom comes mostly from failure and pain. Wisdom is distilled pain, just as maple syrup is distilled sap. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. It takes many painful experiences to create a drop of wisdom. Looking back over the many painful moments that I have had in the midst of addiction, divorce, family death, illness, depression and failure, I am grateful for the wisdom that has come from that. I am finally ready to be a healthy person myself and to be able to help others in their struggles.

We cannot be much help to others unless we can understand their struggles. The most powerful understandings do not come from books; they come from having personally failed and succeeded in the situations our clients, friend and families are in.

In the words of and unknown Confederate soldier:

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

What’s Your Habit?

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

            Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right —   Henry Ford

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit —   Aristotle 

Recently I discovered that I have been practicing an unhelpful, ineffective habit for years. I have developed excellence in failing. And this is not the good kind of failing, where I would learn and grow from the experience.  Let me explain.

Here was my usual routine when setting and working toward a goal. I would spend time in quiet  contemplation becoming clear defining my goal, desire, and intention. Next, I gave thanks for already receiving my desire. And finally I put my head down and did my work. Too frequently though, I never actually received what I wanted. What was I doing wrong?

Perhaps I was setting myself up for failure by creating unrealistic expectations. Sometimes the answer to a wish or a prayer is “NO.” With this realization I started to do my best by letting go of all expectations. However I found this confusing. I was encouraged to “dream the dream.” Following the advice of the Secret and other modern gurus I was to make myself ready to receive all I asked for and more. Isn’t that an expectation? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to let go of my expectations.

Finally a friend came to my rescue in the form of a Mental Health & Happiness challenge. When dreaming my dream and creating the goal, I could include my preference for a specific outcome. The results might or might not match my preference. I shifted to preferring a result rather then expecting an outcome.

WOW! What a revelation. I felt I had freedom to prefer an outcome, but really let go of an expectation of what the outcome should be according to me and my ego.

In the process of trying to figure all of these ideas and practices out, I came face-to-face with my actual expectation. For years and years my actual expectation was that I WAS GOING TO FAIL. Thinking that I couldn’t succeed meant I was always right! Repeatedly thinking I never could meant I had cultivated the excellent of failing! Just as Wayne Dyer promised, when I believed it – that I would fail – I would see it – failing.

What a BIG lesson that took years and years for me to finally learn. Once I finally became conscious and aware that failure was my expectation, I could use failing as a teacher. I have developed a new habit when turning a dream into a goal:

Give thanks for my dream coming true
Work hard
Articulate my expectation, clearing any failure expectation
Transform my expectations into a preferences
Be amazed at all the expanding, extraordinary possibilities I receive

Thank you Mental Health & Happiness Challenges. It was from a specific challenge I learned about transforming a failing habit into the amazing and expanding possibilities of my dreams and my life.

Success or Failure?

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you think of yourself as a successful or a failure? Your answer undoubtedly depends on how you define success and failure. For instance, if you believe having a particular number or certain number of commas in your bank account is the data necessary to prove your success then your answer would be different from a person who believes success is measured by random acts of kindness toward loved ones and strangers alike.

Most of us have learned that failure is part of success. Rarely are any of us successful the very first time we try anything. Children learning to stand for the first time go through a predictable process of standing and falling, followed by standing a failing, with more standing, falling, standing failing repeatedly until finally they stand and succeed. What a remarkable process, especially when you consider what happens next. Now a child will stand and take a step to walk. This learning experience is also full of failure, falling, and frustration until the child learns to walk. Children experience and accept that failure is part of learning and succeeding. It is adults who grow impatient, frustrated and angry when their success takes time and repeated failure.

However, there is a big difference between a child who knows that her failure will ultimately result in success, and a child who believes that he is a loser and a failure no matter what he does or doesn’t do. Unfortunately schools do children no favors in this regard. Giving failing grades to a child struggling to learn does not inspire more studying or striving to succeed. Too often a child believes failure is not just a grade in a subject, but it is who they really are as a person.

Do you think of yourself as a success or a failure? If your answer is failure, consider changing or modifying your definition. The importance of your Mental Health & Happiness depends on believing you are successful and will be successful in your future.

(For those of you involved with children, please take time to help them see themselves as successes too. Their present and future Mental Health & Happiness is at stake.)

I’ve Said It A Million Times!

by Rebecca Gray

Icrazyn my work as a school social worker, I’m always telling people that we are all doing the best that we can, because if we knew how to do better, we would obviously chose that option over the agony of failure.

This seems a pretty solid philosophy when you are dealing with a child who is in a situation that they’ve never been in before, and they don’t have the skills or knowledge to handle it.  But here’s the tricky part… What about the kid who has made the same mistake over and over again and you’ve told them a million times what to do, and they still don’t do it?

Or think about yourself… don’t you know that you should exercise more, or eat better, or quit smoking?  And yet, you don’t do it.  So, how can it be true that if we knew a better way, we would chose that?

This is where we tend to start labeling behavior.  It’s because that kid is oppositional.  It’s because I’m just lazy.

But every behavior exists for a purpose.  It’s easy to simply label someone as bad, and say they are making poor choices.   It’s harder to dig for the real purpose behind seemingly bad choices, and find the need that is being met by that choice.

That kid who skips school may be at home caring for their preschool sister because mom never came home last night.

The child who talks back to the teacher may be trying to gain status with his peers because he feels he is not as smart as the rest of the kids.

I may not stick to my diet because it’s Christmas time and it’s more important to me to share food and drink with the people I love than worry about the number on the scale.

The answer is not in labeling people as bad, it’s in helping them find a way to meet all their competing needs.  Is there a way for the kid to know their preschool sister is safe and attend school at the same time?  Is there a way for the child to feel “cool” with their peers and still be a respectful person?  Is there a way I can maintain a healthy weight without feeling left out of the party?

A favorite quote of mine is “To know and not do is to really not know.”  You may be able to tell me what to do to meet one of my needs, but if I don’t do it, it’s because there is another need that is interfering.   When people know how to meet all their needs effectively, they do.

Mental Strength

Contributed by Denise Daub

leapinggirlCan mental strength = happiness? It would appear from this article that it can.  In a nutshell mentally strong people don’t do these things:

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.  They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair.

2.   Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad.

3.    Shy Away from Change.  An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4.    Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5.    Worry About Pleasing Others.   A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up.

6.    Fear Taking Calculated Risks.  A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks.

7.    Dwell on the Past. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8.    Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over.   A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes.

9.    Resent Other People’s Success.  It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success.

10.  Give Up After Failure.  Every failure is a chance to improve. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11.   Fear Alone Time.  Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone.  They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12.  Feel the World Owes Them Anything.  Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13.  Expect Immediate Results.  They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way.

Sounds like the characteristics of a mentally healthy and happy person, doesn’t it?

Read entire article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/18/mentally-strong-people-the-13-things-they-avoid/