Tag Archives: love

Alone Time

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How did you spend your time yesterday? What’s on your “to do” list for today? Do you consider yourself to be a busy, hurried and harried person or is relaxed, slow and steady a more apt description?

Nether of the above approaches to your days and life is better than the other. In fact, if you are a high energy hare-type person attempting to handle life as a tortoise you may increase your level of stress.

But with either of these life styles the chances are that your life is very full. Your obligations include work, your many relationships, time and energy spent on maintaining your physical and mental health, and hopefully hobbies and other entertaining activities. In the midst of all of this, how much time do you spend alone?

meme-restandrejuvenate

Let’s clarify that question. How much time do you spend alone without looking at or interacting with a screen? Do you spend any time during your day alone, without looking at your phone, electronic pad, television, or computer screen? Do you ever sit on a park bench simply watching what there is to see? The activities could include other park visitors, children playing, squirrels scampering, birds flying or ducks and pigeons foraging. And if not the park, you could sit at the mall, the lake or beach, community garden, or even your own porch, back yard, or living room.

You don’t need to meditate to gain the benefits of spending time in solitude every day. At first it may feel strange and uncomfortable. But the more you practice quiet reverie the more you may begin a journey into unknown parts of yourself. Nothing profound needs to happen, and yet it might. At the very least taking this time away, time alone for solitary time out may very well  rejuvenate, revitalize and replenish your personal imaginings and even your soul cravings.

The surest way to hear the soft strains of harmony is in the Silence.                                                                                          —      Sarah Ban Breathnach

Try seeking the love, belonging, and connections you desire by spending time every day alone, in solitude. Incorporating this simple yet challenging practice into your life may very well improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again

Dr. Ken Larsen

Peter, Paul and Mary did the “Wedding Song” back in the 1970s.  It nearly became a wedding cliché in many of the weddings I attended.  The one phrase stuck out for me in a powerful and wonderful way.  “Woman takes her life from man and gives it back again.”  This had a deeply mystical meaning for me that speaks to the flow of life and love among us.  I believe that the phrase need not be gender specific.  We all have the opportunity and the joy of giving life to one another, and receiving life in return.

Our mental health and happiness depend on our need for love and belonging.  When we talk about “love” in this way, I believe we are talking about our connections with one another that allow for the flow of that life giving energy we call “love” to flow freely among us.  We know what this feels like when it is working.  From the near ecstasy of the first blush of young love to the comfortable connections we enjoy with those close to us through the years.  This state of being connected in life giving ways is the cornerstone of mental health and happiness.  Sometimes we don’t know just how much these connections mean to us until they are lost.

couple

What would happen if each of us would recognize that we have the gift of life to give to others?  A cheery smile to a stranger, a word of appreciation to someone who serves us in a restaurant or drug store, these are ways to give life to others.  Flowers, a lingering hug, tender touches are ways that we give and receive life and love from those in the intimate circles of our life.

We’ve heard for millennia that we ought to love one another, but putting this into practice seems to be elusive.  We are faced with the many ways that we are separate and different from one another.  This sense of separation makes it easier to remain distant and disconnected.  Carried further, our history shows that when we focus on our separation and differences, we can blame “them” for our problems.  This leads to enmity, hatred, and sadly, to violence and warfare.

What if we were to begin to look at our connections?  What if we were to make an effort to recognize one another as persons in the greater whole of humanity?  What if we worked consciously to find ways to share life and leave behind our long history of separation, hatred and death?  What if we recognized the truth in John Donne’s oft quoted words:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne  1572-1617.

What if each of us in some small way started to live our lives as though we believed in our connections as human beings? What if each of us would make a choice to give life in some small way each day to those we meet?  I believe that the impact on our world would be more than some small thing.  It could mean a step in progress toward a whole new and  better world.

Try it, you may like it.

 

Choose FEAR or Love

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

choicesRight now, at this very moment I am standing at a crossroads. As I look in one direction I see doom, peril and potential ruination. In the other direction I see nothing. It’s as if vaseline is over my eyes and I cannot see anything except blurry blobs of ill defined shapes and sizes.

I blame myself for being in this predicament. If I had done a better job of paying closer attention perhaps I could have taken steps to avoid arriving at this particular spot in my life’s journey.

Hold on though. I am not a careless person. Each decision I’ve made along the way was based on doing the best I could at the time with the information that I had. Hmm . . .

I’m discovering that too frequently I blame myself for circumstances, events and outcomes that were not dependent only on my actions or inactions. If blaming is among the deadly habits that contribute to the deterioration and destruction of relationships, how does my blaming myself help me? Hmm . . .

Am I willing to dig a little deeper? Instead of going to self-blame can I better understand my frustration, anger and confusion?

Upon further reflection and some helpful meditative reading I discover that I’m full of fear! If I wasn’t afraid would I be stuck at the crossroads?

Here are some discoveries that have helped me:

FEAR = thinking + time. Decrease either and fear disappears

                                    F.E.A.R. – FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUNor

                                                     FORGET EVERYTHING AND RISE

                                                                                    (Thank you Dave Romanelli for this idea

Happy is the new Healthy, 2014)

What if I face my crossroads, my potential peril, doom or ruination with love instead of fear? Now what?

Yes! Yes! Yes! The choice of direction is clear even though the clarity has not eliminated the blurred and unclear road before me. With love as the guiding light and my total behavior of loving in every step I am propelled forward with confidence and competence.

I choose LOVE and with that choice my Mental Health & Happiness improves. Even though the present “bump in the road” felt more like an overwhelming and insurmountable mountain, with each loving step I am able to continue moving forward.

Are there areas in your life where you’re choosing fear instead of love?

 

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.

exercisingheart

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!              

Now if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

My wife Sheren and I have been married for over 50 years.  We have learned to live together in peace with no conflicts.

And, dear reader, if you believe that I have a fantastic deal on the Golden Gate Bridge.

We have, however, learned ways to work through our conflicts.  Following is one example.

kenlarsenWe have a home theatre system that is kind of elaborate, with multiple speakers and surround sound and all that sort of thing.

I enjoy listening at a level that Sheren finds unpleasant.  We tried turning the sound level down to a lower level.  That worked for Sheren, but not for me.

Sheren, in her loving wisdom, came up with a solution that works for both of us.

Ear plugs for Sheren or a headset for me.  We actually sort of alternate. This is a very simple but effective resolution to the conflict.

I can conclude from this experience that for us, mental health and happiness is not based on being free of conflict.

It is based on maintaining a loving connection while we work through the conflict.

If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

A Quiet Place

By Mike Rice

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I’m in the September of my years, but I can’t help but notice all of the anger and hatred that is going on in the world and even in our own country.   I cannot recall a time when there was so many people, especially online, who criticize, blame, complain and spread so much vitriol and misinformation to arouse others.  It’s as if they cannot feel good about themselves unless they put down other people.  Even when referring to people who are making a difference in the world, the hate mongers try to undermine all their good deeds.   They don’t need bad things to criticize.  They care more about criticizing the good.  How sad and pathetic their world must be to feel they must blow out the candles of others to give the impression that theirs will burn brighter.  One can’t love others if one can’t love one’s self.

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After watching the tribute to Stevie Wonder last evening, there was a tremendous feeling of love and respect.  The majority of all of Stevie’s music deals with love and he emphasized it when he spoke to the audience.   What the world needs now, is Love not hatred.

I can’t change or control another person, or the world, but I can change and control myself.  I submit the following lyrics by one of my favorite vocal groups along with the URL to their performance of the same.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SToxLhroUnE

Feeling, Emotion and Intuition – Part II

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Why would it be important to understand the difference between feelings, emotions and intuition? Let’s see:

man2I had a difficult face-to-face discussion with my ex-wife last night and this morning when I woke up I felt a tightness in my stomach and a sense of general uneasiness. I was having definite feelings about the previous night. My feelings, as they always do, told me that there is something that needs to be dealt with- something out of balance, something that I have become or continue to be aware of.

I sat with the feelings for a minute and realized that I was sad, and disappointed and angry – I was creating emotions in an effort to deal with the feelings I was having. As I tried to sort it out, I realized I was disappointed because my story was “I had really hoped it would be different this time. I had hoped to walk away having a wonderful conversation that helped us reconnect as former partners.” I was creating my anger (angering) with my thoughts “Shit, can’t she ever just make things easy. This is just too hard. I hate feeling this way.” Sadness was accompanying my thoughts that, ”I really do love her and it’s just too bad we can’t work this out. I wish life were just easier sometimes.”

Knowing I have some control over my emotions, I began to ask, “What emotions would I like to be creating?” Sadness was fine with me, and even the disappointment, but I do not like being angry very long. Realizing that an emotion is tied to a story, I began to tell myself the story of forgiveness to replace the story of anger.  (‘We are both doing the best we can. Life is hard and she is hurting and feeling scared. I don’t need to answer anger with anger.”) Knowing what emotions I was creating helped me see how I was dealing with the situation what my other choices were.

Finally, since I was out of balance, I used my intuition to make contact with the universal energy which felt large and safe and supportive of my efforts at forgiveness. I was able to be in the presence of the goodness of the universe, a truly loving energy. Like being held by a loved one, or sitting quietly with an old dear friend; I felt calmer and more at peace. Balance was returning.

That’s why!

Life is love and love is life…

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Love and belonging is at the top of the list of our basic needs named by Dr. Glasser.  What we do to fulfill those needs is the essence of mental health and happiness.   Love is a word with many meanings.  I’d like to examine some of those meanings.

Anyone who has been to summer Bible camp has probably been exposed to the Greek words we have for “love”.  They are:

  • “Philos”.   This is brotherly love. Think of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
  • “Agape” is the selfless, unconditional love that is often used to describe God’s love for humanity.
  • “Eros” is the intimate affection between lovers.
  • “Storge” is a parent’s love for their children.

Each of these ways of expressing love are lifegiving and enriching of relationships.

We need an infusion of love to live and to enjoy life in health and happiness.

mom_baby

Love is poured into us from the very beginnings of our existence.  A mother looks on her baby with love while caring for her baby’s needs.   We are learning that this life giving, life enhancing connection between a mother and her baby is much more than just a “nice to have” expression of affection.  It is actually essential for the healthy development of the baby, especially  for their social and emotional development.  This connection goes both ways.  Both mother and baby enjoy a release of neurochemicals that support their mental health and happiness.

Sadly, there are some children who are deprived of this early enriching experience of love and care.  Many of these kids grow up and experience difficulties connecting socially.  Often there is limited ability  to self regulate difficult emotions.  This often leads to the self medication that leads to addictions.  Violence and unloving sex are behaviors often associated with people that have not had the early experience of love that is needed for mental health and happiness in a stressful world.

I am convinced that it is better to reach out a helping hand before we read another tragic headline born of the not so quiet desperation suffered by some of our people.

How can each of us make a deposit of love into the accounts of those whose emotional checks are bouncing?  There is no quick and easy answer, at least none that I know of, but I do know that it is better to reach out than to reject and ignore.  There is that wonderful tagline that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Elvis did a song entitled “Life” back in the 70s.  The closing line is “…for life is love and love is life.”

Here’s the song if you’re interested.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4cWkMXrGjo

Shame & Guilt: The Happiness Destroyer (Part 1)

 

By Michael Rice, LISAC

All of us have done something in our life of which we are not particularly proud.  And there may be some who may have even had some things happen to them by someone else that they are keeping secret.  In either case, the basis for keeping these things secret and not wanting others to know about them will be rooted in two things:  Shame and Guilt.

shame

Shame and guilt can be the core of most, if not all, of one’s unhappiness.  Yet both shame and guilt are not always bad.  There is such a thing as healthy shame and guilt and these are the principles which keep many people from breaking laws, harming others, or performing deeds that would affect others in negative ways.  It could be said that healthy shame and guilt keeps our innate urge to be selfish or harm others in check.

I don’t believe we know about shame and guilt until we have been taught what is proper and what is not proper when interacting in society and in our families of origin.  And while we are known to be products of our environment, there are some individuals who have not been taught about what may be right or wrong and therefore may possess minimal shame and guilt, if at all.  And there are some parents who use shame and guilt to “control” their children . . . to manipulate them to behave the way they want them to or to get from them what they feel they are lacking.  Playing the martyr is an example of how this is utilized by a parent or spouse to get love and attention that they feel that don’t have.  They suffer or pretend to suffer to instill shame and guilt in someone so that the other person will show them some pity and attention. . . .another form of external control.

It is toxic shame and guilt that destroys one’s happiness and peace of mind.  Toxic shame and guilt consist of the following beliefs:  Guilt is: I DID something wrong.  Shame is: I AM something wrong.

We often hear, “We’re as sick as our secrets,” and to this I must agree.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep from being “found out.”  One must be ever vigilant and looking over their shoulder to keep others from finding out whatever it is they don’t want others to know. Shame and guilt affects all of our genetic Basic Needs of Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun.

A leading cause of substance abuse is found in what is referred to as the Shame and Guilt Spiral.  Drugs and alcohol put to sleep what would make a person feel bad.  As long as they are high or buzzed, the things that normally tend to cause one to feel bad go away, albeit temporarily.  What happens next is the spiral.  Once sober, they begin to feel badly about what they just did (drinking or using) on top of all of the other things of which they feel bad.  They just added another 5 pounds of shame and guilt in a 3 pound container.  The quickest remedy?  Drink or use some more.  This behavior continues to spiral downward until they either get help or die.

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.