Tag Archives: positive

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.

 

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.

 

Nourishing all the Parts of Ourselves

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Within each of us are many sub selves which have identifiable personality characteristics. Each of these sub selves represent different energies and forces within each of us and are ways we express our personalities across a spectrum of traits. Each sub self needs an arena in which it can be expressed as well as emotional and behavioral nourishment to maintain its strength and resiliency.

There are many people who have written about archetypes and sub selves, and some say there are basic ones for all of us and other are less specific. What matters in terms of our own happiness and strength is that we are clear about the energies within us. Let me give some examples in my own life.

It seems to me that the major sub selves within me are my Artist, my Helper, my Teacher, my Cowboy and my Warrior. Each of these has a different energy and each needs different input to be nourished and different arenas in which it can express itself. Right now I am writing about myself as a man; women may have similar or different names or characteristics for their sub selves, but the most important thing is to recognize that in each of these are the psychological pillars of who we are.There may be a dark side to each of these sub selves also, but for now I want to focus on the positive aspects of each.

canstockphoto12706268Some of these sub selves are more appreciated in the world than others and some are harder to nourish than others. My Cowboy, for example, is the part of me that wants freedom, the open range, lack of domestication and lots of playfulness and guy stuff. My cowboy can live in the culture for extended periods of time, but after a while must hit the road, live with less rules, have tos and shun tedious routine.

If my Cowboy does not get a chance to be appreciated and have the space and energy he needs, he starts feeling trapped and boxed in, and may push boundaries in less healthy ways. My Cowboy was not greatly appreciated in the classroom when I was an adolescent. He was, however, appreciated in the world of drama and sports and just screwing around with my friends. My Cowboy also had a few scrapes with the law; he doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules that others demand, and very often says, “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”

When my Cowboy is nourished and has space to be, he is positive, fun, creative and expansive; without that he can become less positive. When he gets boxed in, he pushes back.

In the next few blogs, I would like to share a description of each of my sub selves so that you can begin to identify your own and make sure each has arenas in which they get appropriate input and express themselves in the world. In so doing we have more opportunities to cultivate our mental health and happiness.

Positive Sleep

Contributed by Denise Daub

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Mood and perspective play a significant role on our mindsets before bed, which can in turn influence our quality of sleep. Think about your own experiences — is there a difference in how you sleep when you’re feeling good about things vs. when you’re feeling stressed or down? A lot of that may have to do with what you’re thinking about as you settle into bed.

Check out this collection of great quotes to read before you go to sleep…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rosie-osmun/sleep-quotes_b_7560836.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

 

 

 

The Glad Game

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

It ain’t a ball or a strike until I call it, says the umpire.

If you’re a baseball fan you are familiar with that expression. There may be plenty of fans and players who might call the pitch a ball or a strike, but the umpire gets the final say.

Did you know that you are the umpire in your own perceptions of your life with these same kinds powers? You’re making your own calls all day long. Your judgment calls declare the world to be a good or bad place, your temporary hotel room ugly or beautiful, or the President’s or Congressional decisions to be moral or immoral, right or wrong.

Just as there are players and fans at a baseball game who disagree with the umpires calls there are others in your life that may disagree with your “call.” But you still have the ability and power to make the call.

In fact, it is very difficult to STOP judging the world. Our brains are hard wired for a negative bias. This biological function enables us to quickly assess a predatory animal, a dangerous path or a poisonous food. Without this function our species would have perished a long time ago. I wouldn’t be here writing and you wouldn’t reading this blog without our valuing filters that lead to our judgements, actions, opinions and corrections.

That also means that we are not hard wired for a positive bias. We must learn and practice over and over again in order to notice and celebrate all that is good, in balance and life sustaining.

PollyAnna, the overly nice, sweet and optimistic heroine in the 1913 Eleanor Porter novel by the same name can be our teacher here. She was taught by her pastor father to always find the silver lining in every cloud. PollyAnna developed this skill so proficiently that she was able to discover what was good about receiving crutches as the charitable Christmas gift instead of the doll she was hoping for from the generous parishioners. What was good? At least she didn’t need them.

This skill is referred to as the Glad Game. And as simperingly simple and sugary sweet as you may imagine it, developing and regularly practicing the Glad Game can actually improve your Mental Health & Happiness.

Remember, what you perceive and judge as unfair, ugly, mean, or too hard can be changed by you. Look for the fair and equitable in what you are calling unfair. See if you can find the handsome or unusual in what you are declaring as ugly. Is there any justifiable or understandable aspect in what you now declare mean? Can you discover the challenge and stretch to pursuing what you called too hard?

Simply by reviewing a circumstance, action or object you can usually find the good as well as the not good. It is our brain’s hard wiring that has us rushing to the negative judgement. But with practice and effort, we can change the automatic negative call into a neutral or even positive assessment.

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.

“…and seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

By Dr. Ken Larsen

My friend Dr. Nancy Buck gave me a word of encouragement recently.  It reminded me for some reason of this old song, “Home on the Range.”   I can remember my boyhood hero, Roy Rogers, singing it.  [btw, the second verse is not very politically correct in today’s world, so stick to the first verse.]

It got me to thinking of one of my favorite subjects: words and the meaning they carry.

Think about it.  You have a meaning in mind that you want to send to another.  So you find words that fit and you send those words.  Hopefully, the words trigger a similar meaning in the mind of the receiver.  If that happens, communication has taken place.  Sometime even a meaningless word can have meaning if two people know what is being referenced.  For example, that thingy on your desk came with a doodad attachment.  Where are they now?  You ever communicate like that?  It’s funny how often that sort of thing actually communicates.

puppies

When I heard Nancy offer encouraging words, they triggered pleasant meanings in my mind that made me feel better about myself and about Nancy, and even about the world in general.  I like to find ways to send those kind of messages as often I can without falling into flattery.  If I look and listen, I can usually find something positive and up building to say to another.  Dr. Glasser’s caring habits help with this.

Now think of the unkind word.  The harsh word of criticism, or blame, or complaint.  What meanings do they trigger?  How do they make you feel?  We know that at best they don’t make you happy.  At worst they can ruin your day and affect the way you think about yourself.  You may even go home and kick the cat.  Poor cat.  Think of Dr. Glasser’s deadly habits.

We used to sing “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  I have discovered that that is simply not true.

Let’s look for ways to speak words of love and life everyday.  One of the rewards is the happiness it brings to you.

And your bonus is  a short clip of Elvis singing “Words”.