Tag Archives: perspective

Choices and Attitudes

By Mona Dunkin, CTRTC/LM

Who has not had an experience when your back was against the wall? What to do?  As with most things in life, the array of choices and attitudes are vast. In a rush-rush, worry-worry world one may become blind to options.

choicesThere is always a choice. Even in extreme limits, one always has a choice and can make things better or can make things worse. I find this insight effective in dealing with the clients at the sanctions center where I work. When they rebel against limits, I ask “Is there anything you can do to make the situation worse?”

Although coming from a negative perspective it seems to empower them to realize they are “in control.”

I continue, “Conversely, is there anything you can do to make the situation better.”

Reluctantly most agree that when their back is against the way they still have the power to make things better or worse.

Attitude is the deal-breaker. So what could possibly make a difficult, unhappy situation a little bit better? The key is attitude. Attitude comprises words used, tone of voice, sounds made, facial expressions, choice of clothing and body language. Without a word being spoken, a simple mental shift from rebellion to resistance is noticeable.  In most cases that shift if visible enough to effect a lowering of defenses so communication/negotiation can be re-established. Relationships are subject to change depending on one’s attitude.

Choices are empowering. When keys are misplaced, an initial response is “No!” That’s what’s known as denial. In a state of denial vision is narrowed, thinking is decreased and stress rises. A seemingly illogical decision to choose to accept the lost keys frees the mind to remember where they might be, activates the eyes to see rather than overlook and releases creativity to solve the problem. The choice of keeping a good attitude in the midst of an inconvenience frees you to have a good day regardless.

Choices can be crippling. Too many choices can have a negative impact. In a study of consumer purchases, a vendor offering six flavors of jam sold to 30% of those who visited his display, whereas the vendor with 24 flavors had only a 3% buy-rate. Too many choices can lead to a stalemate. Too many choices can become no choice.

Make your attitude your ally. This is done through the power of choice; if not of the circumstance, then definitely of your response to the circumstance. In those no-choice-back-to-the-wall situations, attitude can be a lifesaver.

Christmas Memories

By Brian Patterson

Kids in footie pajamas; frozen windshields and slippery roads; anxiety about how visitors would judge our house and gifts. These are some of my memories of Christmases past when we lived in the Midwest and had a different perspective on life.

canstockphoto1360199Last night, my wife and I hosted the family of our grown children (no footie pajamas) and my in-laws. The house was decorated nicely- with our eclectic style- and there was very little hint of the anxiety which used to pervade these events. We had chosen to go out to eat our evening meal and then go to our house for gifts, desserts and coffee. We have found it mentally healthy to change some traditions so we can enjoy the holidays and people more and worry less about being judged.


I used to feel that I should hand out Olympic-style score cards to everyone as they entered so we could average the scores and see how well we had done. For days, my wife would be frantically preparing and resenting me (or so it felt) for not being involved enough! During the event she was so concerned that everyone else was happy she could not allow herself that same privilege. Afterwards, she would vow to never ‘celebrate’ Christmas again.

The difference between those Christmases past and the more recent ones has been a growing understanding of how our brains work to meet our own needs and how to meet those basic psychological needs in different ways. We know now that we are not built like anyone else and we can meet our own needs in our own ways without duplicating the efforts of others. This has made us less judgmental and coercive and has improved all of our relationships.

Our mental health and happiness is our own responsibility. Knowing this has helped us to eliminate misplaced dependencies and unrealistic expectations. Others are not here to serve and satisfy us but to accompany us on this beautiful journey of life.

This website, www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com, has more insights into how others can discover the same peace at Christmas.

Every Point of View is a view from one point…

Dr. Ken Larsen

Life and relationships are multi-dimensional.  If we limit our experience of life to a single point of view, our experience will be significantly less that it could be.

Mike Rice recently published a blog where he described the importance of sharing our experience of life with another.  I recall that he went so far as to state that happiness is elusive unless we are connected and sharing with another.

I use this prop as a simple way to visualize the limits of a single point of view.  I wonder how the meaning of much of life is lost because we haven’t shared those experiences with another and “seen” the world through someone’s eyes other than our own.

box1If we just see the box, we miss the beauty within. box2 If we experience only one dimension of the many that make up life, our experience of mental health and happiness is less than it could be.

Dialogue is one way to experience more than one point of view.  In his book “The Miracle of Dialogue” Reuel Howe makes this opening statement:

“Every man [person] is a potential adversary, even those whom we love.  Only through dialogue are we saved from this enmity toward one another.  Dialogue is to love, what blood is to the body.  When the flow of blood stops, the body dies.  When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment and hate are born.”

Sadly, when we are faced with a point of view other than our own, we often tend to judge and discount the other in favor of that internal conviction that the way we see things is the right way to see things.

I am color blind, so getting the point of view of another is helpful and possibly necessary.  Especially when I am getting dressed up.  I once put on what I thought was a blue shirt, only to have Sheren, my wife, gently tell me that it was pale purple.  Sigh.

Just as getting a different perspective on the box is going to give us a more complete picture, being open to the point of view of others can expand, deepen and enrich our own experience of mental health and happiness.




Lessons from the garden

By Bette Blance, M.Ed Studies

About eighteen months ago we had a very large copper beech tree cut down.  It was a heart- breaking decision but it had been planted 40 years previously too close to the house.  Being a deciduous tree it lost its leaves every winter and during the year, several other ‘drops’ of  calyces and hard seed pods added to the clogging of the gutters and a roof that  was deteriorating.

I had always loved the view of the copper beech tree as the lower branches framed our bedroom window.  It was picture postcard view in all seasons.

Several things happened as a result of removing the tree.  A bed of roses alongside the house have now flourished and flowered magnificently during the spring and summer.

A large camellia tree came into full view and as the flowering season continued, it spread a carpet of bright pink petals below it.  I had not appreciated how beautiful this tree was until it stood there alone and proud, not crowded out by the copper beech. I had just not seen it. garden-bette

We sometimes focus on what we have lost and don’t see the other things that are already in our lives.  The lesson of letting go the copper beech was that the view changed and was replaced, when I chose to see it, by something equally as beautiful.

In life there are so many examples of how we cling to old things, hanker after things in the past and fail to notice what is good around us. We can spend a lot of time wanting something that no longer exists, whether it be a relationship or a that dream job, when we could be asking ourselves what is the miracle of what we have now.

In the words of Jeffrey McDaniel “I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”

Thee G-L-O from GLOW

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

I’m embarrassed and a bit ashamed to admit that there are times in my life when I spend too much time feeling dissatisfied and disappointed with my life. I’m fully aware that I am actually creating a more miserable life than the one I actually live by focusing on my dissatisfaction and disappointment.

The fact of the matter is that I’m pretty darn lucky and privileged. True my 20+ year marriage ended not by my choice. But at this point I know I am happier, freer, and more satisfied not married than I was in that marriage. I’m also grateful for all I learned and gained because of it, not the least of which are my fabulous, remarkable and incredible sons. And I’m grateful to be in this next, unexpected stage of my life.

I continue to do personal work to shift my perspective. I’m fully aware that choosing to feel angry and disappointed as often as I do is interfering with my Mental Health & Happiness. Every day I write my affirmations, sing my songs of inspiration and do my daily work cultivating mindfulness, happiness and gratitude.

One warm and sunny morning, I went walking on one of the many creek paths near my home. I began a rhythmical chant I composed giving thanks for receiving all of nature’s gifts. Although this may sound good, I was doing it to shift my perspective about the day. I was angry and oppressed by the unrelenting heat from the constant sunshine without a shade tree in sight. Oh lucky me, I thought sarcastically. Here is another gift-learning-opportunity (GLO) for me to shift away from the negative into the positive of life. How blessed am I to receive another bleeping GLO?

As I followed the gentle curve of the path and came to an open field, I was met by a colony of prairie dogs all out and about for their breakfast! WOW! What a wonderful, surprising and glowing gift nature had bestowed upon me this fine day! For those many people who have lived in Colorado for years, prairie dogs are a nuisance and an annoyance. But not true for this east coast girl. I have only seen prairie dogs in the zoo. These animals are amazing and delightful.

Oh lucky me, I thought sincerely. This village community of sweet little critters lives so close to my own home. How blessed am I to receive this miraculous, glowing opportunity? I laughed with joy! 

For today, why don’t you be on the lookout for the amazing, surprising and simple glowing gifts that nature provides. They really are there every day. You just have to be open to them.

Fun is an Inside Job

Dr. Barnes Boffey

There are those who believe that fun is an inside job and those who believe it is external.

When we say “This isn’t fun” or “That’s fun,” we are describing the fun as external; we are saying the fun is contained within an outside event or experience.


This appears to be true, but in reality, the fun we experience in any event has to do with our internal attitude and perspective. There are people who have fun washing dishes and people who have fun doing all sorts of things that one might not see as “fun” activities. It’s all in how you approach the task.

Yes, some tasks are easier to approach with a light heart and a whimsical
perspective, but it in the end (to paraphrase a Beatles lyric) “The fun we take is equal to the fun we make.”

One way to hold onto this perspective is to change our language about “fun.” When we say “That’s not fun,” we have ascribed the fun feeling externally to “that.” It is easier if we realize that a basic instruction/need in our lives can be  described as “fun,” but we can also describe it as a basic instruction to “be playful.”

If we ask ourselves, “Am I being playful while doing this activity?” rather than “Is this activity fun?” we can keep an accurate perspective. “Being playful” is an internal attitude, not an external attribute. People who are always looking for fun outside themselves will be generally disappointed, often bored, and occasionally depressed. Playful people are not worried about the conditions around them; they bring the fun they want to experience.