Tag Archives: joy

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.


What am I doing?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Be the change you want to see in the world — Gandhi

We are only a few days into the new year and I’m feeling weary. The temporary respite of the political bickering, name calling and finger pointing is at an end. What happened to the declaration and feelings of



I know spending time on social media is not helping. One person declares that his position is right and honorable, while another declares the same about her opposite position. How surprised I am to be so actively involved in arguments and bickering between so many people even though I live alone. It’s not like the good old days when I could simply go into another room when my children were “going at it” with each other.

Amazingly, I continue to choose to read these posts. I open my Facebook page to connect with the wider world and discover what’s going on! Whew. What I discover leaves me feeling upset and disheartened.

I deicide that I’m just not going to engage.

That doesn’t help though because now I’m missing all the moments of laughter and joy while seeing pictures, stories and announcements that delight. These treasures are buried among the terrible grumblings and demands that this person disagrees with a certain politician, don’t I agree?


My new resolve is to respond differently, whether this is simply a private thought or an actually written comment I publicly share. I’m going to ask myself these questions:

  •           What am I doing to contribute to the problem?
  •           What am I doing to contribute to the solution?
  •           Can I do anything to tolerate, honor and respect other people’s  alternative belief and position?
  •           Can I do anything to help people tolerate, honor and respect other people’s alternative belief and position? 

Ah, this feels better. 

And I can always choose to disconnect or hide a post I simply do not want to read.

Such simple actions to improve my Mental Health & Happiness today.

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 . . . !

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.

Jump for Joy and Happiness

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Want to know what mental health and happiness looks like? Watch a child discover then dive deep into play with a puddle. There may be no greater happiness or pure joy anywhere.

So what’s wrong with us? Too many adults awaken to a rainy day with dreary thoughts, complaining to themselves or anyone else who will listen about how the rain is going to interfere with their day, their plans or their spirits.

canstockphoto15119958Imagine you wake up to a rainy day with joyful anticipation. Grabbing your rain coat and boots you march outside. You’re on a hunt. The goal is to discover every puddle to jump into. See if you succeed in maker bigger and bigger splashes.

Why should you do this? Just for the joy and fun of it. And along with this action you will find a bit of improved mental health and happiness.

Try it and see.

If you could offer one piece of advice for Mental Health and Happiness what would it be?

Don’t Worry Be Happy

By Kim Olver

Isn’t funny how we used to intuitively know how to be happy. Somehow we have forgotten to find joy in the little things. Somewhere along the way, we learned from someone that the things that we rejoiced in as children, are no longer things to be happy about. See if today you can forget what others told you about rainy days, Mondays, flat tires, traffic and other annoyances and see if you can’t find the joy again. Watch this to help you remember:

Have you lost your happy in happily ever after?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD,RN

Remember the promise of life as an adult?  What happened?  Ever wonder why you seem to be spending your days worrying about your children’s happiness, your aging parent’s happiness, your spouse’s happiness, your boss’s happiness and even the happiness of the members of the PTO and Girl or Boy Scout troop?  Ever wonder what happened to your happy in the promise of life Happily Ever After?

How much silly and frivolity do you regularly practice in your life? Let’s start there. You are a responsible adult with serious and important work to do and tasks to perform. But clowning, telling and hearing jokes that lead to groans and moans may be as necessary for your happiness as are water and chocolate.

Perhaps you imagine participating in such activities would be childish. EXACTLY! Children possess a greater sense of HAPPINESS NOW because they capture every moment to be silly, frivolous, and filled with laughter and horse play! (Remember horse play, the thing that most public pools prohibit?)

Frivolity and silly are not the only aspects upon which to focus. When you arrive at work today, take a moment and notice and give thanks for all the other drivers who cooperated with you allowing you to get to work safely (even if it wasn’t on time). Did the sun rise today? That’s worth noticing. What kind of weather are you experiencing today? Give thanks for another day filled with sunshine, or rain, or wind, or whatever it is that this day is filled with. What are the good things you may not have considered that you get to experience with this kind of weather?

All of the many upsets, demands, frustrations and moments in which to complain will be present whether you take note of them or not. So will all the moments worth noticing and relishing because of their joy, awesome nature and ordinary miraculousness. Why not let today be the day you focus on the positive and let someone else monitor and complain about the negative.

Start today resolving to notice and add more moments of joy and laughter in your day. When you do you will be creating  the meaningful life that includes you and your happiness. Aim for Happier Ever After instead of Happily Ever After. Now make Happier happen by your own actions, thoughts, focused attention and celebrations.


by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.
— Anthony D’Angelo
(Thanks for sharing this quote on our quote page Miranda Galbreath)

Do you consider yourself a person who is generally happy, upbeat, optimistic? Or would you say you are more of a realist, clear about the potential hazards and failures as well as good fortune? Perhaps you are a superstitious person, avoiding walking under ladders or letting black cats cross your path and never walking on sidewalk cracks if you can avoid it.

There has been some interest in the idea that we are each born with a happiness set point, just as has been suggested there is a weight set point. The notion of a happiness set point means that no matter how high or low your happiness may rise or fall due to a new life circumstance or event, you eventually fall back and settle to your “usual” level of your happiness set point.

If this is true, then it could also be true that we have the ability to change our happiness set point, just like we do our weight. This doesn’t mean that making this shift is easy to do as you may well know if you have ever tried to lose weight when you are stuck at a certain weight set point. But it can be done. (Your level of belief and enthusiasm for this notion is probably affected by your happiness set point.)

Are you willing to conduct your own experiment to see if you can learn and practice new happiness habits to raise your level of happiness? You can start by setting a goal to be happier instead of aiming for a big goal like happiness.

Here are some ideas that might help: Join and start practicing Mental Health & Happiness daily challenges. Pick out one of the many habits that you received when you signed up to this website. Find a website that delivers daily jokes, inspirational quotes, images of cute puppies, kittens or babies that help you create your own inside sunshine. Or try to find what you like, agree with and want even in situations or events that seem to be only contrary.

Who knows, maybe you will be the person other’s describe as the one who brings sunshine wherever you go, no matter the weather.

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.


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.