Tag Archives: Nancy Buck

Fake It

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN (originally published November 18, 2014)

I’ve never met a person who didn’t have their days feeling low or down. Sometimes it’s for a very good reason, like a rainy week spoiling your vacation at the beach. Sometimes it’s for no obvious or evident reason at all. And sometimes your down day provides a temporary pause or time-out that you’re sorely needing.

If your blues are getting you down enough so that you’ve decided you want to take action, here are a couple of ideas that might help.

You could do a needs inventory. On a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is the low level and 10 complete satisfaction, how are you doing meeting your needs today?

safety:     1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
love:        1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
power:     1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
fun:          1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
freedom:  1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

laughingdogWith this information can you plan to do something now, or at the latest tomorrow, to increase your satisfaction for the need with the lowest number?

Or you could just start laughing! Go ahead, try it. Did you know that if you fake laugh long enough, you’ll actually start to authentically laugh really hard?

That’s right, you can fake it until you make it just by laughing, laughing, laughing! If you’re skeptical, try it out now. Or if you just want to give a boost to your present Mental Health & Happiness start laughing now!

And if you discover you enjoy this, not only can you start laughing at any time for no good reason, you could sign up for a Laughing Yoga class in your neighborhood. No kidding, there is an official yoga class and laughter clubs developed by physician Madan Kateria from Mumbai, India. You can start laughing now with a room full of strangers. Together you all start with fake laughter until you are all laughing really hard and joyfully together. At the same time you will be  improving your Mental Health &  Happiness for sure.

Emotional Self-Defense

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN


As a thirteen year-old girl, I was threatened, mocked and bullied by an older girl (age fourteen) while her posse watched. As far as I knew I had done nothing to provoke this attack, yet on my walk to school or during play time with my neighborhood friends this tormentor would come from nowhere and start. Finally, one day I had had enough. I stood my ground and silently stood up to her. She brazenly walked up to me, slapped me across the face, and turned to walk away. I grabbed her hair in an attempt to bring her back. Much to my horror I pulled great clumps of her over-dyed and over-teased hair out of her head. Without skipping a beat, she walked to her friends and they all walked away. We never exchanged another glance, blow or word.

I wondered if I had triumphed? I was relieved that the teasing, intimidation and bullying stopped. At the same time I was not proud of having made an enemy and in such a violent manner.

During the years since my youth, I have had similar kinds of experiences. Luckily none have ended with a physical battle. I’m too often clueless about what I have done or do to provoke such anger and hatred. However I am old enough now to know that I am not just an innocent victim. What may be my well intended words could be perceived by the other as a threat or attack. With my added experiences and greater (?) wisdom, at least I know enough to offer an apology for what I may have done that has offended the other. Luckily, most times this helps to sooth hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Perhaps a friendship may not develop, but at least we end with better feelings toward one another.

Sometimes however,  there are a few who continue to attack, no matter what. The wonderful world of online encounters through Twitter, Facebook and other social media create many of these possible interactions.

Thanks to Dr. Peter Breggin I now know what to do. Did you hear him interviewed on our Mental Health & Happiness Summit? He offered a great deal of helpful advice and ideas to contribute to Mental Health & Happiness for us all. (Watch Dr. Peter Breggin’s inverview here:  http://www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com/2014/peter+breggin.html) And he also provided me with an incredibly helpful concept and skill.

We are each entitled to the right for unconditional emotional self defense. We can and should expect, demand and ask to be treated with respect and kindness.

The first time I interact and am attached by a person with whom I have had no prior history I will take a step back, literally if I can, or in my imagination if that is the only possibility. Closing my eyes I visualize surrounding myself with a clean and protective space. Some parents teach their children do this calling it the bubble of safety. Some people imagine stepping into a white light space of safety. It’s helpful to experiment and practice this skill before you get into a situation where you need to use your protective space.

Finally, I say, I have the unconditional right to emotional self-defense. I am entitled to be spoken to with respect. I offer you this same respect. 

For me the results have been amazing. Occasionally I am bullied on Facebook. This practice has helped me to stand up for myself without attempting to externally control the other person or bully back. On Facebook I make this statement slightly differently: If you can speak to me respectfully I welcome your thoughts and comments. Otherwise, please leave me alone. 

I’m actually looking forward to the next time I need to practice this skill face-to-face with a someone. Learning this strategy has greatly improve my Mental Health & Happiness.

Pain is a powerful teacher

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

After falling to make a challenging tennis shot I was left bruised and shaken. My partner and I won the game but at what cost? I hoped that rest accompanied by alternating sessions of applying ice then heat on my injured arm would help me feel better. After a painful evening followed by a sleepless and painful night I knew I needed a different solution. I went to the doctor to discover I had broken my elbow and wrist in two places. Pain was a powerful teacher I could not ignore. 


During my life not only have I experienced physical pain, I’ve also had my fair share of emotional, mental and spiritual pain. Just recently I had to put my 17-year old cat down. She was really my mother’s cat, but before my mother died she asked me to take care of Molly. The death of Molly was sad and hard. Not only was I losing my companion cat, I was also reminded of the sorrow and loss of my mother.

It has taken me a long time to understand that pain is not just part of my experience, but pain is a teacher. 

Prior to this realization, there were too many painful moments in my life that I treated as something to avoid, to relieve, to cover up or to cast off onto another so as not to feel the pain. After all, considering that pain is a teacher means that pain is my teacher offering me the opportunity to self-evaluate, learn, grow and change.

Wouldn’t life be easier if I could just cover up the pain by ingesting some legal or illegal pain reliever? The hope is that smoking enough cigarettes or dope, drinking enough alcohol or taking enough pills will diminish or temporarily mask  the pain. Sometimes this works but too often it doesn’t work well enough.  The pain still gets through. And, as too many people have discovered, there is the secondary pain that comes from using any one of these pain relievers too frequently. Now you’re stuck with two different kinds of pain: the pain from the original problem; and the cycle of pain that comes from using, abusing or being addicted to the pain reliever.

Perhaps the strategy of avoiding the source of the pain all together would work. This is often done in combination with deflecting the source of pain by blaming another person. How many times have your heard the story about a cheating partner? In an attempt to avoid the pain and avoid discussing his unhappiness, Jack decides to cheat. Of course now he feels even more pain compounded by guilt and shame of cheating on Jill even though  he experiences some temporary relief of enjoying the pleasure of a budding romance. If and when Jack gets caught, often he will blame his cheating choice on Jill’s indifference and distance from him. These attempts to avoid pain ultimately end with more and a different pain that needs to be addressed. Eventually this pain can also become a powerful teacher for those who are willing to learn from it.

Even though pain is a powerful teacher, not all of us are ready and willing to learn the lesson. For some of us the pain needs to get bigger and bigger, greater and greater, louder and louder before we consider change. And sadly, for some, their best solution to end their pain is to commit suicide.

However, a better solution when experiencing pain is to self-evaluate. Pain is a loud signal letting us know that we are out of balance. We need to take some positive action in order to get back into balance. Sometimes getting help is necessary, like when I went to the doctor for x-rays and he applied a cast to mend my broken arm. Sometimes it is necessary to spend some quiet time alone and listen to your own inner knower that directs you to apologize and work out your differences with a loved one..

Remember pain can be a powerful teacher not just an experience. When you open yourself to learning the lesson that pain can teach, you will improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Driving to Mental Health

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

At his point in my life, I figure I have been a passenger with at least 100 different drivers. Some are happy and entertaining while they maneuver through traffic. Some are conscientious, safe and good drivers. I only have to apply the imaginary brakes on my side of the passenger seat on rare occasions with very few.

canstockphoto0012473What I find the most astounding, however, is the large number of drivers who are outraged by other drivers. Without hesitation some drivers let fury, scorn and abuse fly at the other drivers sharing their road and route. I am amazed at their level of hostility, anger and scathing opinions they have of these other drivers. Most of these folks are family members or dear and close friends. This aspect of their personality only comes out when they are driving. I would wonder, How can this dear person allow other people’s driving to dictate her feelings, mood, and happiness? 

That is until I moved to a new region of the country. I have now become one of those unhappy, impatient, and screaming drivers. The common courtesy and rules of the road that I practiced in New England are not the same in the Rocky Mountains. Too often I find myself arriving at my destination furious and blustering about the other incompetent drivers on the road. “Don’t people know how to drive in this state?” I complain but no one seems to sympathize with me.

I also realized sound just like my brother-in-law did when he moved from New Jersey complaining about all of the incompetent drivers in Rhode Island. At the time I thought he was nuts. Now I’m becoming the same nut! And Jack has since moved to Georgia where he is complaining about how poorly people drive in that state too!

I have been recently reading my niece’s Facebook entries. She lives in South Carolina and has made the conscious choice not to drive a car but to use her bicycle instead. And she is bitterly complaining about the dangers and cavalier attitude of drivers toward bicyclists! This became my final straw.

In order to improve my own Mental Health & Happiness, I’m changing my ways. I know for sure that I cannot change the way other drivers drive, or cyclists ride, or pedestrians walk. I can only control myself. It is time I followed my own advice.

When I look for the other drivers who are driving cooperatively, safely, and considerately I always find them.

I’ve started a new habit. Every time I get behind the wheel, before I start driving, I thank my fellow drivers for driving cooperatively, safely and considerately. I vow to do the same. Let’s work together to arrive at our personal destinations safely and filled with love. 

So far I have been amazed how much more considerately, safely and cooperatively the other drivers have become!




What’s Your Habit?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How often do you brush your teeth? If you want to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy hopefully you aim to brush twice a day. How long do you need to maintain that practice? My dentist told me I only need to do that as long as I want to keep my teeth and have a healthy mouth and gums.

How often do you make nutritious food choices? Do you make these kinds of  choices only while you are on your weight reduction program? Perhaps that isn’t the best example since too many people make crazy and unhealthy choices when they are trying to trim down. When following the best advice about developing, improving and maintaining good, strong and healthy bodies, we’re told to choose good, healthy and nourishing foods every time we eat. . . for our lifetime.


How often do you follow an exercise program? Do you practice yoga once every six weeks and consider that the best practice for your body? Do you go to the gym once a week hoping you can maintain some level of being in good shape with this level of commitment? There are some who are able to develop a routine, habit and practice of physical exercise that they maintain all of their lives. Still others of us get into a good habit, something disrupts and stops us, so we need to start again. The goal, however, is to find and maintain some kind of physical activity we enjoy, that benefits our bodies, and that we can do forever.

How often do you follow a Mental Health & Happiness practice? If you only think about and do something that supports your Mental Health & Happiness occasionally you will get limited results and benefits. Imagine only following an occasional routine for your oral, nutritional, or physical health. This too would result in limited results and benefits.

In order to develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness you need to set your intention and develop a daily habit or practice. Doing something once while hoping for positive results is not a good habit or practice. Following a Mental Health & Happiness habit needs to be part of your daily routine and practice in order to get the positive results you want.

Since this habit is something you will do regularly, it is best to find the practice that you enjoy. You are more likely to follow this routine until it becomes an automatic habit if the routine is  pleasurable and enjoyable. After all, eating cod liver oil may be a practice that supports your health. But if you find it unpalatable, you won’t swallow it.

There is no difference when developing a Mental Health & Happiness habit. If your have valiantly tried to keep a journal, but just find the practice tedious and onerous there is no good reason to make that your practice or habit. You won’t do it.

For those of you who have signed up for the Mental Health & Happiness daily challenges, you have been offered many suggested strategies. When you signed up for this website, you also received a list of even more strategies you could try.

Why not make today the day you will set your intention to find the Mental Health & Happiness habit you enjoy and can commit to following daily. If you found one, but as sometimes happens have been slacking off in the follow-through recently, make today the day you pick up that practice again.

After all, developing, improving and maintaining Mental Health & Happiness is something you can choose to practice every day.

My Ambition

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN 

The bear went over the mountain and what do you think she saw? She saw another mountain and what do you think she did? The bear went over the mountain. . .

rockyroadEver since December 14, 2012 I have been the bear going over the mountain to change how Mental Health & Happiness is understood and dealt with in this country and beyond. My ambition is to change the way we see, understand and deal with Mental Health & Happiness in ourselves and in others.

With the help of some dedicated and inspired colleagues and friends, we have been able to climb a mountain only to discover more mountains. We are not weary of the journey, nor are we slowing down even a little bit. There is much work we have done and there is even more work to do.

I want to remember, however, to stop along the way and take in the vista at the top of this mountain.

One year after launching this Mental Health & Happiness site this is what we have accomplished:

* A new blog is posted every other day, covering a wide range of topics on Mental Health & Happiness

* Since January 2014, people are signing up for Mental Health & Happiness challenges with a new challenge delivered every day (for twenty one days, then there is a seven day rest period followed by new challenges delivered).

* October 10, 2014, on World Mental Health Day we participated by offering a free virtual Mental Health & Happiness Summit that included twenty-four interviews with twenty-four experts around the globe. Over 1200 people participated.

* All of these interviews are available free online. Audio downloads of the interview are available for purchase.

We have people reading our blogs and participating in the challenges from all over the world. Our numbers continue to grow as friends and family share this helpful site with one another. There are others who simply stumble upon Mental Health & Happiness and like what they read. We also have folks who work in prisons sharing the blogs and challenges with prisoners, teachers sharing with their students from elementary level through college, and therapists and counselors sharing with clients. And these are the ones we know about.

As we start our next year dedicating our time, energy, work and passion into Mental Health & Happiness, this is what we hope to accomplish in the next year:

* Posting new blogs every other day will continue.

* New challenges will be delivered to those who are interested until we reach 365 total challenges written.

* Challenges will continue to be delivered to those who sign up.

* We will offer the 365 challenges for sale as book, an ebook to begin, for those who are interested in purchasing for themselves or as a gift.

* We will launch a monthly YouTube show including interviews with featured guests as well as panel discussions on Mental Health & Happiness to begin early in 2015.

*October 10, 2015 will be our second annual Mental Health & Happiness Summit

Want to be part of the team that is making Mental Health & Happiness a public health issue? Here are some things you can do:

* Tell everyone you know, love, and work with to go to www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com and sign up. Feel free to tell people that you don’t know, don’t love or don’t work with too.

* Contribute a blog. Need help? Contact me at parentdr@gmail.com

* Contribute a challenge. Need help? contact Kim Olver at kim@wglasser.com

* Give us names of people you would like to hear from on our YouTube show.

* Make a financial contribution, if you can.

* Keep reading the blogs, doing the challenges and sending us your feedback. We love hearing from you and knowing that what we are doing is facilitating a positive difference for you.

* Tell us how you want to help and what you want to do. We don’t want to restrict possibilities. If we are going to change how Mental Health & Happiness is understood on the planet we need everyone’s ideas and help.

Thank you for all for what you have done in making Mental Health & Happiness the success it is. Let’s not stop! There are plenty more mountains we need to climb. We believe It’s more fun and inspiring to do it together.

An Act of Love

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Several years ago I was lucky enough to live near my eldest sister and her husband. For the first time in our adult lives we were neighbors and friends not just sisters. How lucky we were to spend a great deal of time together, learning about each other, what we liked, disliked, the ways we were similar and different, and who we had each become. We just sprinkled a bit of fun in all are interactions and suddenly we had become BFFs in mid-life.

I discovered what a generous and loving person my sister is. Although I had always known this to be true based on how she treated me, what I learned is this is how she treats everyone. Within just a few minutes of meeting a new person or greeting an old friend, Susan finds something wonderful about this person. She then generously and genuinely compliments them.

That color blue really makes your eyes sparkle. 

You always say the nicest things about your children. It’s so delightful to hear. 

Thank you for driving. I really appreciate that you are always willing. 

The very first time I noticed this, I begin to observe Susan more closely. Was I the only or most frequent recipient of this act of love? No! No matter if she was greeting a store clerk, the postal worker selling her stamps, or a repairman, this is how she treats people. In fact she is also likely to bake cookies for repairmen ensuring particularly high quality work.

If you live in the south, this may not be such a unique quality to you. But for me, a New Englander, this was an amazing discovery.

canstockphoto6627060Not only did I notice how generous and lovingly Susan behaved with her compliments and praise, I also noticed the response of the people receiving her gifts, including me. People just glowed. Even folks who were shy or reluctant to easily receive her compliments smiled. Some people commented, “You have made my day.” Many people beamed holding their heads and chests higher.

I’ve been working at incorporating this act of kindness and love into my daily practice. I’ve made two additional discoveries. First, because I’m looking for it, I find more of the good in people than their bad or annoying parts. I’ve also discovered that the more I find good in another, I’m able to find more good in myself too.

Giving and receiving compliments is an act of love that improves my Mental Health & Happiness. You can start this practice and share the sunshine too.

Are you willing?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD,RN

Are you willing to take one action step that will improve your Mental Health & Happiness? This isn’t going to involve a lot of time, money or sacrifice? Well, maybe I spoke too soon. For some people this will take more energy, effort and hard work than it will for others. But it probably won’t mean that you will perspire, grunt or strain.

Here’s the proposition: Stop complaining for twenty-four hours. That’s it. Don’t speak or even think a complaint for twenty-four hours. Go ahead, I dare you.

Complaining is a natural and normal part of the human experience. Our brains are biologically driven to seek information in our environment about what will help, support and sustain us and what is interfering with our good biological and psychological satisfaction and survival. Our brain is driven to behave when there is a mismatch between what we want and what we perceive we’re getting. One of the first behaviors we use when there is a mismatch is complaining.

I’m not warm enough. . . . . .  I think I’m getting a cold. . . . . There isn’t enough light in this room.             

Complaining by itself is not a problem. But continuous complaining without constructive and positive action can be debilitating. Complaining certainly can interfere with relationships as well. You probably know someone who is a constant complainer. Debbie Downer can always find what is wrong in any situation.

You can also be your own Donald Downer. I’ve had my own periods in my life where I’ve complained to anyone who would listen about being so tired of listening to my own complaints!

If you decide to take this challenge and give up complaining for twenty-four hours an interesting thing will begin to happen. Since you know you are not going to complain about all you see, hear, and perceive about what is wrong in your world, you will begin to notice all that is right, in harmony, pleasing and beautiful in yourself and in your world. Instead of talking about how bad it is that you’re not getting what you want, you may begin to talk about what you do want. The miserable day that you might have had will become a wonderful day that you are having, simply because you’ve chosen to stop complaining about what isn’t and started to notice what is.

Go ahead, give it a try. Improve your Mental Health & Happiness by complaining no more, or at least for twenty-four hours.

Are you willing?

Best Antidepressant Cure

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Did you know that in the early 1800s, Americans turned to the advice of Scottish physician William Buchan for melancholy:

The patient ought to take as much exercise in the open air as he can bear . . . A plan of                this kind, with strict attention to diet is a much more rational method of cure, than                              confining the patient within doors, and playing him with medicines.

Today British medical authorities have rediscovered Buchan’s advice. The National Insitutute for Health and Clinical Excellence decided that antidepressants are not recommended for the initial treatment of mild depressions because the risk-benefit ratio is poor. Instead physicians should try non-drug alternatives and advise patients of all ages with mild depression of the benefits of following a structured and supervised exercise programme. 

That’s right, doctors in the UK may write a prescription for exercise! Andrew McCulloch, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation in London says, “The evidence base for exercise as a treatment for depression is quite good. It also reduces anxiety. It’s good for self-esteem, control of obesity, et cetera. It has a broad spectrum effect.”

In 2000, a study by James Blumenthal at Duke University revealed that it is unwise to combine exercise with drug therapy. He conducted a study with three different groups: exercise, or Zoloft, or exercise and Zoloft. Those treated with exercise alone were doing the best. And given the choice after the study, more people chose exercise alone and continued for a long time afterwards.

Hmmm. Why is this information such a mystery for those of us living in the United States? Are our physicians less well informed? Are our drug companies perpetuating the myth that
depression indicates bad brain chemistry?


Luckily, you don’t have to worry about finding this answer. All you need to do is follow the advice of getting yourself outside and exercising to improve your Mental Health & Happiness!

*Information for this blog is courtesy of: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, Robert Whitaker. New York: Broadway Books, 2010, p345.