Tag Archives: happy

Feeling Out of Balance and Centered at the Same Time Part 1 – Going Back to Basic Principles

by Barnes Boffey, EdD.; Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org


For many people, the recent election has provided a test of their capacity to stay centered and happy, especially given what they may see is a dire future ahead. There are, conversely, many who are ecstatically happy as they bathe in the belief that our next president will help them get what they want. In either case, this election has created more stress and contentiousness than any I can remember in my 49 years of voting.

It also means that many people who have been used to feeling powerful and in the “right,” may be feeling disconnected with their communities, their work colleagues and their fellow citizens. Many are feeling like “strangers in a strange land,” unable to connect with those around them and experiencing a true sense of being aliens in their communities. Primary responses to this have been angering, depressing, pessimism, and projecting deep emotions on events that have not happened yet. That coupled with the thought, “How could these idiots be thinking what they did?” leads to feeling very out of balance and in many cases, severely lonely.

The challenge seems obvious, “How can I maintain my center and a positive sense of being when I feel severely out of balance in the world around me?” Not surprisingly, this means we have to be ever more intentional about our actions in maintaining our mental health and happiness. It also gives us a chance to understand how Internal Control Psychology can be the foundation of this process. In the beginning, taking control of our emotional well-being means we have to remember a few foundational principles, as well as asking some very important questions of ourselves and others.

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The primary foundational principle we might be well to remember is that overall our metal health is determined by our ability to be loving, powerful, playful and free in whatever situation we find ourselves. If we cannot do that, we will be out of balance and likely blame the external situation for our unhappiness. It is easy to be loving in a situation where we feel supported and valued; it is much harder in a situation where we feel judged, alone and out of step with those around us. The same is true about being powerful, playful and free. If the world presents conditions in which we can easily be these things, it is easier to choose to create these emotions from the inside out. If we perceive our world as full of stupid people, or as a place where we can’t laugh because of how bad things are, or a place where we feel trapped as we see options shrinking in the future, we have to work much harder at following these psycho/spiritual instructions.

To be loving, powerful, playful and free regardless of the world around us, we have to bring to bear imagination, skills and courage.  In order to live in any environment, disparate or not, we must have accurate blueprints (pictures) of what it would look like if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free. We must move from the principle/values level to a more specific description of the actions, thoughts and emotions that we would be using if we were effectively following our instructions in that specific situation. Generalities are not helpful.

For example, if we have a relative whose political beliefs differ dramatically from our own, our initial choice of behavior may be anger, incredulity, judgment and disgust. We may feel these are totally appropriate given the situation, but if our goal is mental health and happiness, being “right” or focusing only on getting that relative to change their mind will be ineffective. Our first step in gaining balance must be creating a new blueprint which illustrates and defines for us what we would be doing, thinking, and feeling if we were being loving, powerful, playful and free at the same time that our relative continues to be who they are, not who we want them to be. This is the imagination piece.


How do we imagine a new vision of ourselves being in balance when we believe the world outside us is “wrong,” or crazy or unacceptable? This is very hard because we often don’t want to let go of our current way of processing things, and we probably won’t until the pain and ineffectiveness become bad enough to consider letting go, or until we realize that in maintaining our anger, judgment, and rigid behavior, we are becoming the very kind of person we have railed against.

The first step, imagination, means developing a vision of a balanced and happy self. We need a blueprint before we can create a behavior.  Being happy does not occur in difficult situations without a new level of intentionality in creating these blueprints. It means asking the question, “If I were balanced and happy, how would I be feeling in this situation?” The answer to that question will determine where we head next.

Let’s say for example, that our answer is “I’d be feeling strong, compassionate and detached (rather than infuriated, manipulated, out of control and judgmental). From there we have to create the thinking and actions that would accompany those feelings, and then act on those thoughts and actions whether we feel like it or not. One of the hardest parts in this stage is that we may be very attached to our ineffective behaviors; it feels unfair to us that we have to change when others are wrong. We may want to hold onto our “rightness,” and see how long we can get away with ignoring our basic instructions.

One thought that makes happiness almost unattainable goes something like this: “I need others to act in the ways I want them to act in order for me to feel the way I want to feel.” This way lies unhappiness. The road to true inner balance can only be attained in thinking, “I have the ability to create the emotions I desire in my life in spite of the actions of others. I don’t need to have others change for me to be happy.”

Next time: Part Two: Imagination, Skills and Courage

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.

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Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

Reflection: Take the First Step – Turn on your Bright Lights

By Debbie Crinzi

Reflection is a critical part of making life better and happier. I compare the process of reflection to using your bright lights when driving. When you have good habits that keep you on track and the world around you is clear and understandable, you don’t feel the need to use your bright lights. However, when problems arise and unhappiness ensues that is the time to turn them on.

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The first step towards reflection involves turning on your bright lights. I often look for a quiet place to be alone where whether sitting, standing, or lying down I can deliberately relax every part of the body – starting with facial muscles, moving to neck, shoulder, neck, arms and hands.  Then I focus on calm, even breathing. Sometimes I have to start counting my breaths before I can just focus on the breath entering and leaving my body.  I have to control the thoughts flooding my mind before I can listen. Emptying my mind of thought, just focusing on breath, is the trigger to turning on bright lights. It is the first step towards self reflection. Try it! Whether indoors, outdoors or just sitting in the car, take a moment to first relax your body and then to clear your mind of its busy thoughts.

What you do a lot you get good at doing. It is easier for me to practice relaxing my body’s muscles and taking calm, even breaths when standing at the kitchen sink or looking out the window. I don’t have to wait until my emotions are choking me to use this skill. Actually, I want to become good at doing it before problems occur. By practicing the relaxing of my body and clearing my mind of anything except for my breathing, I discovered that it becomes easier to use this skill during times of stress and anxiety. After all, what you do a lot, you do become good at doing! Practice this skill at any time of the day for any amount of time. Putting the practice in strengthens your personal mind control and allows you to retrieve the skill when unhappiness pervades your life.

 

The Anchor for the Happiness Explosion

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. —  Seneca

Have you noticed how much talk, press, advice and media attention happiness is getting these days? If you google the word you will get thousands of hits and leads to follow if you want to learn more. You can even find articles and advice about the differences between joy, pleasure and happiness.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about happiness:

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. 

How fortunate we are to be the recipients of all this talk, research, and media attention on happiness. You can find lots of advice and ideas, including our contributions here on Mental Health & Happiness.

choosehappiness22485059I encourage anyone who is interested in increasing your sense of mental and emotional well-being and positive, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment and intense joy to learn more as well as research and experiment more for your own happiness sake. Yes please, I want more of that too.

We here at Mental Health & Happiness invite you to go to a deeper level regarding your happiness. When you look for the positive, the good in each life experience and each person you meet, your level of satisfaction may increase, but only to a limited degree. If you’ve ever tried giving this kind of advice to a friend or relative who is suffering with severe depression you may have quickly discovered the short coming and potential offense of this idea. Simply focusing on the positive is not enough. Why? 

Glasser, founder of Choice Theory psychology suggests that all human beings are born with five genetic instructions or basic needs. From birth to  death, all that we do is an attempt to effectively meet our needs for safety, (survival,) love, power, fun, and freedom. Understanding and attending to these needs is what anchors or grounds your positive focus and habits resulting in deeper contentment and happiness.

When you connect your discovery of the positive or your gratitude with one or more of your basic needs you have a much greater sense of satisfaction and pleasure. As you read and learn of specific strategies to grow your Mental Health & Happiness become intentional about which of your needs is satisfied with each activity. At the end of the day if you realize you have satisfactorily met your need for power, but still are not feeling connected nor are having fun, you can choose an additional strategy to meet those needs. This leads to successful Mental Health & Happiness. Your happiness, joy, satisfaction and contentment is anchored and grounded in your basic genetic instructions and needs.

When you practice gratitude, getting enough rest, getting and giving a hug, generosity of spirit and laughter you will increase your Mental Health & Happiness. And when you connect these habits with your genetic instructions to be safe, loving, powerful, free and fun you anchor your happiness in the genetic instructions you were born with. Power, fun, freedom, love, and safety is the port we are always sailing to, including in our pursuit of happiness.

 

Gratitude, the gift you give yourself

Contributed by Denise Daub

How Gratitude Can Benefit Your Physical Health All Year Long

by Lindsay Holmes Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

canstockphoto2744335Now that we’re officially in the holiday season, generosity and gratitude reign supreme. We’re altruistic because we’re motivated at this time of year to support others who are less fortunate, and we express thanks for those who have extended similar kindness to us.

And honestly, why wouldn’t we want to tap into this sort of holiday spirit? Both generosity and gratitude have an incredible influence on our emotional health. When we practice them, we’re happier, more optimistic and have a lower risk for depression and anxiety. New research also shows that gift giving reflects how we feel about others and could give more insight into how we maintain relationships.

Yet, somehow, we really only concentrate on the benefits when the year winds down. Bah-humbug.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gratitude-benefits-physical-health_56538058e4b0879a5b0c1464?ir=Healthy%2BLiving%253Fncid%253Dnewsltushpmg00000003

“I don’t sing because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.”

by Dr. Ken Larsen

The above quote from Wm. James somehow has always made sense to me, even if I don’t fully understand the reason the meaning is so intuitively insightful.

singingI envy musicians who can sit together and jam with impromptu abandon and not only enjoy themselves, but they bring happiness and joy to those sitting around them watching.  It’s a language and a connection that goes above and beyond what us non-musicians enjoy.  They don’t even have to share the same language.  Music is their language.

A friend of mine is a retired trumpet player/ entertainer.  I enjoy listening to him tell me about some of the nuances in the musical arts that are not evident to the uninitiated.  His stories about rubbing shoulders with well known entertainers in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe are interesting and memorable.  I’ve gotten to know some celebrities through Mike without ever having seen them.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that when I sing, I can lift my level of mental health and happiness.  There is something in going to another internal place to sing and make music that is soothing to me, and distracting from the ordinary cares of life.  Listening to music is OK. But I find being actively involved in singing and perhaps playing to be much more fulfilling.

As an undergrad a friend taught me a few chords on a guitar.  I’ve used what I learned often throughout my life since then.  When people ask me if I play guitar, I smile and respond, “I play at it.”  And indeed I do.  Good mental health and happiness require a certain amount of “play” time in our lives.  Playing guitar and singing old favorites is good therapy for me.

Even if you can’t play an instrument, you can go to YouTube and find some of your favorites available as Karaoke recordings, so you can sing your favorite songs with high quality accompaniment and arrangements in the quiet of your home.  And if you have a dog, he or she may sometimes join you in a doggy harmony.  J

My wife is tolerant of my caterwauling because she knows how much I enjoy it.  We even sing together from time to time, but not as often as I’d like.

Life is sometimes hard and at the end of the day it’s good to go to another place to be refreshed in our mind.  I used to do that with booze and TV, but today I find an hour of singing in my study is far more restful and refreshing to my beleaguered psyche.

If you ask what music I enjoy, I would have to say anything with melody and harmony.  The vocalists I like to emulate are Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Kris Kristofferson, and Elvis of course.

So try it sometime, remembering Wm. James insightful words:  “I don’t sing because I’m happy.  I’m happy because I sing.”

 

Happiness Matters

Contributed by Dr. Nancy Buck

Pharrell Williams on the ‘Happy’ Phenomenon

Turning Point: “Happy,” the world’s first 24-hour music video, becomes a global sensation.

canstockphoto0374035Happiness is a human right. It’s neither a luxury nor a triviality. It’s given to you at birth, but you must recognize its existence. It’s as important as the breath of air in your lungs. If people aren’t happy, the world is not right.

Most people think that once they have found “it” — whatever that “it” may be for them — then they will have attained “perfect” happiness. But happiness always comes from within, and many unfortunately take it for granted, or feel guilty about it or suppress happiness instead of setting it free.

It’s not possible to experience constant euphoria . . .

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/pharell-williams-on-the-happy-phenomenon.html?ref=opinion

Thank you Pharrell Williams for your song that has contributed to Mental Health & Happiness for so many people

You Never Know

By Denise Daub

Woke up this morning to a glorious day… windows open, breeze whipping through the house, wind chimes playing music on the porch… great day for a run.   Last time I went for a run the heat and humidity was so bad, I couldn’t breathe.  I decided I wouldn’t run outside again until the humidity broke and here it was… great day for a run.

I got dressed, put on my new running sneakers and went out. I knew that I really needed this for my mental health, happiness, physical health and well-being. I made it a special point today to look around, enjoy the coolness of the morning, the lush green grass and the blowing trees in the breeze.  I thanked God for the day and the ability to do what I am doing… running.  At age 50 and 80 lbs overweight, I decided to take up running.  I am on week 7 of my program for two weeks now, not able to complete my goal yet… but I am running.

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But today something happened that helped me reach a turning point.  As I was running and looking around me I noticed another runner coming the other way.  In all the times of running, that hasn’t happened to me before.  I wondered… and as we passed we smiled and waved at each other.  So, you say… isn’t that the polite thing to do?  Of course, if I was walking she would have done the same thing… but I wasn’t walking.. I was running.. She acknowledged me as a fellow runner.  I have arrived.

I have been running for a few months now and I know that I am runner, but something about that simple gesture just nailed it for me.  The woman had no idea that her simple wave made my day and went a long way towards increasing my mental health and happiness.  She had no idea that I have been struggling for a few weeks, was starting to believe I couldn’t do it, couldn’t lose the weight or ever really complete a 5K run.

As you go through your day, remember we are all at different places in our lives and we can never know what someone else is going through or thinking.  Your smile or wave of acknowledgment can make someone’s day.  

Where are you on the Mental Health & Happiness Scale?

by Dr. Nancy S Buck

We have spoken with many, many people since starting and diving deep into our Mental Health & Happiness project. The stories and responses we receive in return have been enlightening, helpful and thought provoking.

One thing we hear from many who are new to this kind of a journey and new to Dr. Glasser and Choice Theory psychology are questions about mental health and mental illness. How does happiness figure into this?

Here are a few things we believe:

  • We are all in a state of mental health. The common terminology of “mental health issues”is describing someone who is lower on the above continuum.
  • Despite the recent DSM-V, not all human responses and reactions to life’s stressors and upsets are diagnosable disorders.
  • People with a diagnosable disorder will move higher on the above continuum, improving their mental health & happiness when they meet their needs for safety, love, power, fun, and freedom every day in respectful and responsible ways.
  • Improving the important relationships in our lives will improve our Mental Health & Happiness.  This alone will move us higher on the continuum.
  • Developing, improving and maintaining optimal Mental Health & Happiness is possible to learn and teach. Just as we learned what to do to get into better physical shape, or improve our dental and oral health, the same is true for Mental Health & Happiness.
  • All mental health professionals should have a clear, achievable definition of Mental Health & Happiness. If anyone is presently seeing a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, ask him or her what his/her working definition of Mental Health & Happiness is. How can you move higher on the above continuum if you don’t know what it looks like and what you need to do to improve?
  • Our emotions are indicators of our emotional and mental state. When we feel glad, happy, hopeful, enthusiastic and positive we are heading in a mentally healthy direction. When we feel sad, angry, hurt, disappointed, frightened or negative we are heading away from what we need and want.
  • Part of normal living includes positive and negative feelings. Negative feelings do not mean we are mentally ill. We are simply lower on the above continuum at that point in time.
  •  Knowing what you can do to improve and move higher on the continuum is the indication of Mental Health & Happiness. Being Mentally Healthy & Happy does not mean that we feel happy and positive all of the time. But when we feel negative we know why and know what to do to improve.

Hope this helps you better understand where you are on your own continuum of Mental Health & Happiness.

Please give us feedback about more questions, discoveries and quandaries as you continue on your journey with us.

100 Days of Happiness

By Denise Daub

canstockphoto4416414

What makes you happy?  Do you even know? Do you go through your day mindless of those happy moments?  How many times a day do you smile, chuckle or just feel a sense of happiness?  Do you ever take a moment and think about that moment, I mean really think about it, savor and cherish it? Do you have any idea what 1 day of happiness looks like? How about 100 days? Would you like to find out?

So, here it is the challenge, #100HappyDays project.   Happiness in images.  Go to http://100happydays.com/ and join. You choose your platform, but we would also love to see your moments, so post your images on our facebook page with the hashtag #100happydays.

Do you have time to be happy today?