Tag Archives: meaning

Cause and Effect: Which Happens First?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Nothing we do is caused by what happens outside of us — William Glasser, MD

How do you feel today?

Good? Tired? Stressed? Satisfied? Angry? Upset? Excited? Bored?

How come you feel that way? If you were to explain to someone else the reasons you feel this way, would you say, “Because I choose to feel this way?” If you did that would be surprising.

Mostly when we explain our feelings and our present state of well being we point to something outside of ourselves as the cause for our pleasure or displeasure.

I’m so happy because I did well on my exam.

I’m furious that my boss doesn’t believe me.

This Thanksgiving is going to be perfect because my out of town family is coming here for the celebration. 

None of these circumstances or situations are inherently good or bad, pleasurable or displeasing. It is our belief, opinion and meaning making that makes them so.

For instance if you have ambivalent feelings toward your family, or feel criticized and uncomfortable around certain members of your family, you might be less than pleased to know they will be joining you for a holiday. 

What happens in the world are simply the facts as we presently understand them. Declaring them good and pleasurable or bad and displeasurable is something that happens inside each of us. And this declaration depends on how close or disparate we perceive the world compared to how we want it to be.

It’s like the baseball umpire says: It ain’t a ball or a strike until  I  call it a ball or a strike. 

The effect the world has on our Mental Health & Happiness is based on the meaning and value we place on the information and experiences  we receive in the world. We are the cause and we decide the effect.

If you don’t like what is happening in your life, one way you can change it  is to change how you are describing and making meaning of the experience.

canstockphoto22485059Too much unhappiness and misery? Change the value and meaning you place on the “facts.” You can change it to neutral, positive or negative.

This is not easily done and takes work and practice. But the results will definitely improve your present mood and your Mental Health & Happiness.

Try this:

Describe today’s weather? Are your descriptors factual or neutral, such as Today it is raining and the temperature is 58 degrees

Or is your description more opinionated:

Today is a miserable, raw and cold day

Or is your description positive:

I’m so glad it’s raining today so I get to stay inside and read all day long.

Now try this:

Change the description you made and see if you can describe today’s weather in a neutral or factual way, a positive way and a negative way.

Choose another situation in your life and see if you can do the same thing; describe it neutrally, positively and negatively.

The cause of your displeasure or unhappiness is only inside of you and how you define and describe your world. For improved effect that includes improved Mental Health & Happiness change your descriptors of your world from negative to neutral or positive. 

*Take Charge of Your Life: How to Get What You Need With Choice Theory Psychology, p. 5, Dr. William Glasser, M.D.

 

Relationships: Function of Time and Meaning

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Many years ago a wonderful mentor of mine explained that significant and satisfying relationships were a function of time and meaning. We have all experienced an encounter so full of meaning that you think you and this person will be soul mates for ever only to discover that you hardly remember his name the following week. We’ve also probably had a relationship with an elderly relative who has known us all of our lives. Unfortunately after we finally graduate and become an adult each subsequent meeting with this person becomes more awkward. Yes, your relationship is full of time. But eventually there is only insignificant and trivial meaning between you. Satisfying, meaningful and important relationships are built on a significant amount of two essential ingredients: time and meaning.

With the advent and explosion of social media do you feel more connected, more satisfied in your ability to meet your basic need for love & belonging?

I’m happy to be able to keep in fairly regular contact with my adult niece who lives far away and who I almost never get to see. I’m able to keep an eye on her as I read her latest posts about her cats, social life and political actions. I’m also able to send her interesting posts about the things that she’s passionate about in life. Occasionally she returns the favor by sending me posts and articles that she believes I might care about too.

But the reality is that this precarious connection is not very satisfying. Yes, we are sharing some meaning. And this helps during those few real time meetings that we have. When we get to spend time in the same place we can avoid the strained conversation where we each ask the other whats new. We kind of have that covered by reading each other’s Facebook posts regularly.

Yes, my niece and I have known each other for all of her 34 years of living. And with the help of Facebook we have a better idea about what is meaningful to the other.  My relationship with Sarah is stronger than my relationship with my nephew Lewis. I’ve known Lewis longer because he’s older. But we do not have a Facebook connection. This means we are not sharing any of the meaning in our lives regularly. Now all we have is our shared history. And most of that history was from his childhood.

Oh my goodness! I’ve become that dreaded relative. You know the one I mean. The one who marvels at how grown up he has become and then I regale him with too much information about some subject no one cares anything about!

Our social media my be giving us the false illusion that our lives are filled with friends when in fact many lives are simply littered with people. A screen connection can never replace an actual face-to-face meaningful connection during a shared experience.

But connecting with far away family can be enhanced through the regular and meaningful connection on social media. Facebook will never replace a family reunion. But Facebook is much better then silence and absence that my grand parents experienced.

I never would have dreamed that Facebook would help me with my Mental Health & Happiness!