Tag Archives: fun

Meditation in Motion

by Veronica Daub

It was difficult to watch the smiling faces of my friends spinning in and out of view, their limbs contorting and stretching in ways that resembled circus ballerinas. A plastic circle—a hula hoop; well, I thought those died out with elementary recess. But between laughter and silent moments of concentration, it was clear to see their minds were snagged on something deeper. I could see the spark resulting from accepting a challenge flare across their face; a look of accomplishment upon the landing, or the seamless retrieval of their plastic dance partner as it tried to roll away. Their facial expressions danced with the rest of their bodies, and with all the focus in the limbs, naturally the control over the face slackened—their blatant joy was genuine and not forced. As they twirled within their circles, I could tell I was invisible to them, sitting on the lawn while mindlessly tearing grass from the ground. I looked on with fascination; I couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Finally: “Hey, teach me something.”

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Three years later, my hoop and I have been through much reflection. People have called me “high-strung,” and I’ll admit I’ve always grown annoyed when attempting meditation. Sitting still doesn’t work for me—perhaps I need practice, but the combination of stilling my mind while allowing my body to convey the thoughts that flutter through my head has proven to be much more than useful. The hoop offers something much similar to meditation while including the action of my entire body. Whether it’s a distraction from any hurt or hardship that falls into my lap and wraps itself round my brain, a vehicle to release tension or stress from work or relationships, or a tool that magnifies a celebration—my hoop aligns me.

My hoop has become an extension of my limbs, and of course, it did not begin that way. Just like picking up a guitar for the first time, your fingers don’t know what to do, they’re awkward on the strings and it feels as though they’ll never feel at home on the neck of the instrument. The same is with the simple circle—it’s a foreign object that, just like a new friend, you need to grow familiar and comfortable with. When I first began, I would play for ten minutes before growing frustrated and tossing it aside. However, I always tell newcomers (because I try to spread the love of the circle further and further) the more you learn, the longer you’ll practice, because the more fun it will be. And then fun gives way to tools that benefit your headspace; within the circle is a place of comfort, a way to blur away and ease the frustrations of day to day life.

Plus, just wow, is it a great workout.

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There are many different ways to experience your hoop. On the wings of my favorite playlist, I drive myself into a dizzy stupor as my body tries to keep up with the tricks my mind tries to convey to my limbs, and I stumble around while panting through a huge grin that’s typical of a fiery session. But other times, my features are like still water, and my movements are slow and calculated. It’s during these times that the music is off, along with most of my senses. From the hoop to my fingertips, up my arm and to my shoulder blade, there is a direct connection to the stresses of my head which melt away as I let myself play with a toy like a child again. It’s necessary to embrace the child within us all, and the hoop has taught me to let the qualms of my life roll by like the hoop over my chest—contemplation rather than dwelling, and letting go rather than clenching on for dear life.

 

The need to understand cause and effect

Dr. Ken Larsen

When I entered Dental School in 1961 the dental profession was not able to meet the needs of our population.  Dental disease (tooth decay and gum disease) were progressing more rapidly than the ability of the profession to repair the damage.

The lightbulb came on as many of us started to think about, talk about and work toward understanding the causes of dental disease so we could get ahead of the problem by preventing the disease.  How many dentists does it take to treat a disease that has been prevented?

As a profession, we shifted our focus from chasing the effects of disease, to understanding and dealing with the causes.

People still suffered from dental disease, but more and more people began to understand that disease was optional, not inevitable. 

cause-effectThe key, of course, was to understand and control the causes of the disease.  This required new learning and changing behavior.

As you may have noticed, changing habitual behavior patterns is not easy.  Our efforts have largely paid off for those of our patients who accept their responsibility to learn to control the causes of their disease.

You may wonder why I’m talking about dental health in a blog about mental health.

Many of us are undergoing the shift from chasing mental illness to promoting mental health.  This involves working to understand what causes the loss of mental health and learning to change our behavior to follow more healthy patterns of living.

Some are telling us that changes in brain chemistry are what causes mental illness.  Some are looking more at the kinds of things we each can do to stay healthy, including learning and practicing more effective ways to live, love, and relate to one another. The research for the causes of mental diseases and illnesses continues.

However, the good news is that there is no need to wait in order to take immediate action and receive an immediate pay off for your personal Mental Health & Happiness.

Just like with your dental health, if you will accept personal responsibilities NOW by meeting your genetic needs for love, power, fun, freedom and safety, you will experience an immediate improvement in your Mental Health & Happiness.

Happily, there are now lots of ideas and suggestions to this end. Please read any and all of our blogs. Sign up and start receiving Mental Health & Happiness challenges for support and help. And there is even more readily available now on the world wide web.

 

“But I got an emptiness deep inside and I’ve tried but it won’t let me go…”

Dr. Ken Larsen

I believe that happiness is not something we can seek for itself.  Dr. Glasser and Mike Rice (a friend who is a Choice Theory Addiction Counselor)  have told us that we can seek pleasure for itself, because pleasure can be a solitary pursuit.  Happiness is more of a byproduct of a life lived in caring relationships with others.  Within those relationships we are getting a large portion of our needs met for love and belonging, for fun, for freedom and for a sense of self efficacy or power.  For most of us, even if our lives are reasonably happy, there is still a level of the imperfect in our happiness.  There is often a small emptiness somewhere inside that is hungry for something that we may not even be able to name or identify.

questionThis hole in us may be a hunger for more intimacy in a relationship, a spiritual hunger, or that unexplained existential loneliness that haunts us, even when we are with those we love.

I think the Serenity Prayer offers an appropriate response to this hole inside us.  “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I have found that if I strive and strain to fill the hole, to find the answer to the question raised by that empty space, it becomes more elusive and slippery.  Struggling to meet an unmet need that is beyond our grasp simply drives it further away.  For example, if I am striving to earn the affection and approval from someone who has withheld it, this will just widen the gap, and increase the distance between us.

It is far better for mental health to “accept the things I cannot change” and move on to pursue the other good things in life.  Many have found that in the process of letting go, the frustration and anxiety that are associated with that unmet need subsides and may even go away.   The interesting and paradoxical experience of many is that sometimes letting it go is what allows what is wanted and needed to gently come in to fill the hole without any strident effort. 

I believe that a perfect state of mental health and happiness is beyond our grasp.  I also believe that we can all make progress in this pursuit, even though the price for perfection is prohibitive.

https://youtu.be/sxDyXK93o6g

 

Nourishing all the Parts of Ourselves

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Within each of us are many sub selves which have identifiable personality characteristics. Each of these sub selves represent different energies and forces within each of us and are ways we express our personalities across a spectrum of traits. Each sub self needs an arena in which it can be expressed as well as emotional and behavioral nourishment to maintain its strength and resiliency.

There are many people who have written about archetypes and sub selves, and some say there are basic ones for all of us and other are less specific. What matters in terms of our own happiness and strength is that we are clear about the energies within us. Let me give some examples in my own life.

It seems to me that the major sub selves within me are my Artist, my Helper, my Teacher, my Cowboy and my Warrior. Each of these has a different energy and each needs different input to be nourished and different arenas in which it can express itself. Right now I am writing about myself as a man; women may have similar or different names or characteristics for their sub selves, but the most important thing is to recognize that in each of these are the psychological pillars of who we are.There may be a dark side to each of these sub selves also, but for now I want to focus on the positive aspects of each.

canstockphoto12706268Some of these sub selves are more appreciated in the world than others and some are harder to nourish than others. My Cowboy, for example, is the part of me that wants freedom, the open range, lack of domestication and lots of playfulness and guy stuff. My cowboy can live in the culture for extended periods of time, but after a while must hit the road, live with less rules, have tos and shun tedious routine.

If my Cowboy does not get a chance to be appreciated and have the space and energy he needs, he starts feeling trapped and boxed in, and may push boundaries in less healthy ways. My Cowboy was not greatly appreciated in the classroom when I was an adolescent. He was, however, appreciated in the world of drama and sports and just screwing around with my friends. My Cowboy also had a few scrapes with the law; he doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules that others demand, and very often says, “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”

When my Cowboy is nourished and has space to be, he is positive, fun, creative and expansive; without that he can become less positive. When he gets boxed in, he pushes back.

In the next few blogs, I would like to share a description of each of my sub selves so that you can begin to identify your own and make sure each has arenas in which they get appropriate input and express themselves in the world. In so doing we have more opportunities to cultivate our mental health and happiness.

Finding Your Passion

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. — Joseph Campbell

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. —  Harriet Tubman

Ever read these kinds of quotes before? Does it help you feel inspired, fired up and ready to go out into the world and take your next step to conquer your fears and realize your daydream2dream? Or do you feel annoyed and irritated instead? Do you wonder what your dreams and passions are? How are you supposed to follow your bliss when you don’t even know what that is?

Here are a couple of stories that just might help improve your Mental Health & Happiness as you consider or reconsider your bliss, passion and dreams.

Once upon a time I started a college program where I was able to create my own course of study. I knew I needed the program to be interdisciplinary. And I knew some of the academic disciplines I was already interested in. But what else?

Following the direction of a well seasoned college professor, I gathered together all of my purchased books as well as borrowed books and articles (from the library and friends). I discovered something amazing! There, right before my eyes, were two very clear categories of subjects I had been studying on my own, driven by my own interest and curiosity: women’s studies and religion. I had unearthed some of my hidden curiosities, passions, and desires!

Once upon a time in another person’s life, my friend went on a great European summer adventure with his old and reliable camera in hand. His great adventure was filled with learning, fun and picture taking. He could hardly wait to return to the states in early September to develop all of the wonderful pictures he had taken of all of the beautiful women he saw in each new country and city.

Imagine his surprise when upon developing all of his many photographs he saw building, after ruin, after architectural angle and  points of interest. He was completely surprised by his own inner knower that led him to his life’s work. He is now a successful architectural photographer!

Want to start following your own bliss and passion? If you already know your driving dream then get going or keep going.

 There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. — Nelson Mandela

And if you are one of the many people whose passion, bliss and dreams are a mystery to you, then start your detective work now. Gather your books, pictures, articles, saved quotes, mementos, souvenirs, collections and any other clues you can about who you are, what you care about, what lights you on fire and sets your heart soaring. With these discoveries you too can start creating the life that is all you are capable of living. And your Mental Health & Happiness will hold steady at a bliss-filled level.                                              

Have some Fun!

Dr. Barnes Boffey

There are those who believe that fun is an inside job and those who believe it is external.

When we say “This isn’t fun” or “That’s fun,” we are describing the fun as external; we are saying the fun is contained within an outside event or experience.

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This appears to be true, but in reality, the fun we experience in any event has to do with our internal attitude and perspective. There are people who have fun washing dishes and people who have fun doing all sorts of things that one might not see as “fun” activities. It’s all in how you approach the task.

Yes, some tasks are easier to approach with a light heart and a whimsical
perspective, but it in the end (to paraphrase a Beatles lyric) “The fun we take is equal to the fun we make.”

One way to hold onto this perspective is to change our language about “fun.” When we say “That’s not fun,” we have ascribed the fun feeling externally to “that.” It is easier if we realize that a basic instruction/need in our lives can be  described as “fun,” but we can also describe it as a basic instruction to “be playful.”

If we ask ourselves, “Am I being playful while doing this activity?” rather than “Is this activity fun?” we can keep an accurate perspective. “Being playful” is an internal attitude, not an external attribute. People who are always looking for fun outside themselves will be generally disappointed, often bored, and occasionally depressed. Playful people are not worried about the conditions around them; they bring the fun they want to experience.

Use it or lose it!

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN                                                          

Are you interested in keeping your mind and thinking sharp? Then use it. Recent research tells us that frequent participation in problem solving and thinking games and activities will help us ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Want to maintain your physical strength and abilities? Then start exercising and keep at it. Amazingly our muscles will grow stronger as long as we are using them. Using them can include strength building exercises, playing sports, or completing activities of daily living.

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Do you want to remain a sexual person? This same principle applies. Use it or lose it. Engaging in sexual activities keeps your sexual desire alive. And when the desire and urge are present chances are that acts of romance will follow.

Now lets consider your happiness muscles. Are you using them frequently and regularly? If not you are bound to slowly lose them. Use it or lose it applies to your Mental Health & Happiness too.

Do you know any grumpy people? Sadly there are more peevish older people than those of other ages. But being irritable and crotchety is not reserved exclusively for the elderly. Anyone who is not exercising, using and working out their happiness muscles is in great peril of becoming ill-tempered and churlish.

Rather than waiting for the research to confirm this idea, understand NOW that if you don’t practice strengthening, endurance and flexibility in developing your happiness muscles you will lose them.

Choose to meet your needs for safety, fun, love & belonging, power and freedom every day in responsible and respectful ways. Exercise your happiness muscles in the following ways:

smiling    producing    giving thanks   journaling   relaxing being mindful   creating       being in sunshine   exercising  physically   sleeping     healthy eating     socializing     volunteering   meditating                                                          

What do you do everyday to improve your personal well-being?

Remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!              

Frequency Not Intensity

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that the more frequently you notice and indulge in a positive experience you will have a greater sense of happiness and well being than if you wait for one big or intense experience?  At least that’s what psychologist Ed Deiner who has done extensive research on Subjective Well Being (SWB) has found.

This has interesting implications, don’t you think?

For those of you who may be keeping your “nose to the grind stone” while pushing, working and slaving away hoping to make up for the heavy duty focus during your annual week’s vacation, it may be time to rethink this strategy.

For parents or teachers who are insistent that your child (at what ever age) stop their foolishness and start concentrating on serious work, it may be time to start giving your child different advice.

And for those of you who may have learned about some of the seemingly silly games and distractions found at places like Google, perhaps we can all follow this different kind of a lead.

We can each increase our Mental Health & Happiness by planning for frequent moments of positive experiences throughout our day.

canstockphoto7428668Instead of working hard fifty weeks a year hoping to make up for it with your two week vacation, sprinkle in more joy, fun, and pleasure during the fifty weeks too.

Teachers and parents, schedule break times often during study hours. Include free dancing, juggling, water balloon battles and tongue twisters. Your child will have greater Mental Health & Happiness and will probably be more productive during the work and study time too.

And last but not least, start keeping track of all that you love, like, find fun and pleasurable. It’s hard to increase the frequency of pleasure and positive in your day and life if your only link is to positive is chocolate. I’m not saying don’t indulge your chocolate moments, but finding and making more positive and pleasure with more alternatives gives you more possibilities and greater chances of success.

Make today the day that includes many positive and pleasurable breaks! Watch how your Mental Health & Happiness increases.

Can fun change behavior?

By Nancy S Buck, Phd, RN

Many years ago I learned of an ingenious invention.  A father who was worried about the number of solitary and sedentary hours his children spent passively watching television decided to make a change in his home. He configured a stationary bicycle that needed to be pedaled in order to provide the electricity to power the television. If his children wanted to watch TV they had to produce the pedal power to make the TV work. At the time I wished I had the knowledge and skill to make my own TV run by Nancy energy.  At least I would be exercising while I spent what I considered to be too much time “vegging” out in front of the boob tube.

Hold onto your hats, folks. There is a website that may delight, surprise and inspire you. The Fun Theory, http://www.thefuntheory.com is An initiative of Volkswagen. 

canstockphoto6113908This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for  the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

 Spend a bit of time on this website and learn about all sorts of ideas people have not only imagined, but that the folks from The Fun Theory have actually made into a reality, and discover the miracle of fun.

Dr. Glasser declared that fun is one of the five genetic instructions driving all behavior. What this website demonstrates over and over and over again is that people are more likely to follow the path that will lead them to fun. Along the way, parents, or governments can associate the fun path with wished for behavioral changes.

For instance, creating a game to pick up toys, or decluttering a room, or doing homework,  increases the chances you child (and you adult) will complete the task. The child probably has very little interest in completing the task. But children always have interest in fun, more fun, and more fun and games.

Or, as one of the video demonstrates, recycling material that increases the publics accumulated “pin ball” machine score increases the likelihood that people will recycle. When people can play the “piano keys” on a stairway they are more likely to use the stairs instead of the escalator also provided.

Do you want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start meeting your need for fun, (which includes learning as long as the learning is fun), more regularly. See if you can create a game, challenge or more fun into your least favorite chores and jobs. Ask your children for their ideas and help. Children are experts at making fun and games anywhere, anytime whether appropriate or not. They can also be your consultant and coach when you need more fun in your life!

Picnic Day

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that August 4 is Picnic Day in Australia? I didn’t either. I’m also wondering if it is authentic and something people actually celebrate, or is it something that my calendar writers simply put on that date. Were they trying to fill the space with little known informative and facts? I’m lucky to have lots of friends in Australia so I can seek the answer.

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In the meantime I’m going to take advantage of this BRILLIANT idea! Authentic or not, real or not, I’m going to make it real for me. It’s too late for me to celebrate Picnic Day on August 4 this year. So I’m going to look at my calendar and aim for the first  Saturday in September to be the day I celebrate Picnic Day. I’m going to invite my family and friends to celebrate with me! I can hardly wait. Just thinking about it and planning it has me feeling mentally healthier and happier.

Why don’t you join in the celebration too? You don’t have to choose the same date I am. Look at your own calendar now, and name the date! For those of you who live in parts of the world where summer has an end, be sure to take advantage of the glorious summer days to create you very own honoring and celebration of Picnic Day. However, you might decide that any season, any location, any menu is the best day to celebrate as long as you include your best friends to be part of the celebration! If this is your first year celebrating Picnic Day you also get to start your own tradition for this holiday.

Improve your Mental Health & Happiness by adding this new holiday to your year!

P.S. Folks from Australia who are reading this post, would you let us know if this really is a holiday for you? Thanks.