Tag Archives: practice

Your New Year’s Resolve

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

We are close to the end of January, the month that many of us decide to make life changes and resolve to improve habits, thoughts and tendencies. How are you doing?

Anybody feel like your motivation is waning? Is the excitement you felt as you anticipated changing your life for the better harder to call on? Are you finding it more difficult to get going or to keep going in your new direction? Is it too easy to find an excuse or reason to slide backwards instead of continuing forward?

Let me offer some thoughts and advice to help:

Change is never easy!

Our usual patterns and behaviors are well worn paths and organized patterns in our brain. Any time anyone does anything new it’s harder than the old way.

For instance, how many times this year have you written or typed 2015 instead of 2016? You got into the automatic pattern of of writing 2015 after you practiced enough times. It’s going to take time, thought and practice for you to be able to write 2016 automatically.

This small habit that you changed in 2014 has only been part of your life for a year. And yet  you practiced this habit enough so that now it takes concentration, thought and time to change. This habit is in an area that is not very important in your life. And still the old habit sticks making it harder to start the new habit.

When you are attempting to change another area in your life, an area that has been your habit and practice for years, it’s going to take a lot more time, practice, concentration and forgiveness when you fall back on old habits. It is not easy to change any organized, automatic behavioral habit. Add patience, kindness and self-forgiveness as you go through the process of changing any habit you have been practicing for a long period of time.

Resolve to start doing something, not stop doing something!

If your New Year’s Resolution describes eliminating a behavior you are headed for failure unless you add what you are going to do instead.

Choice Theory psychology explains that all behavior is purposeful, even those nasty and unpleasant habits you want to change. The purpose of ALL behavior is our best attempt to act on the world in an attempt to get what we want to more effectively meet our needs. Even though the habit you want to change is not ultimately helping you be the person you want to be, it is helping some, meeting some need slightly. This is why you continue behaving as you do because it works!

(Maybe it doesn’t work well, or maybe it works for one thing and interferes with another; people who worry that they will gain weight if they give up smoking cigarettes, for instance.)

canstockphoto0012473Rather than resolving to stop doing something, resolve to start doing something. If you simply resolve to stop yelling at the other drivers on the road, what will you do the next time a driver cuts you off, or turns without using his blinker, or passes you on the right?

You’re still going to have the urge to yell, swear, or honk your horn. However, if you resolve to say loudly with feeling, “I bless you (or thank you if you prefer) as we to travel together safely on our journeys” you have a much greater chance at succeeding with your resolution. You don’t have to mean it with loving kindness. Just shout the loving and kind words, changing your road rage slightly.

Whenever there is a difference between what we want and what we are getting we have an urge to do something. And for many drivers that something is to shout angry words, flash finger digits and honk the horn. With your new resolution you are probably still going to encounter annoying and irritating fellow drivers. You will still have the urge to rage. So resolve to transform your anger into gratitude and thanks. You will be doing something. And you will have transformed the something you do.

Keep your BIG picture desire, dream or wish in mind when your motivation starts to droop

Remember why you’ve decided to stop eating all the white things (flour, sugar, salt)? You want to feel healthier and have more energy. Keeping this in mind can be useful and helpful when you are faced with a hot-out-of-the-oven, freshly baked biscuit.

Remember why you’ve decided to join the local athletic club and work out more? You want to be able to play with your children, bending, stretching, getting down on the floor with them and getting back up again, playing tag and all the other glories of play. Remember this the next time you wake up earlier than you want because you promised yourself you are going to the gym this morning, not rolling over to sleep just fifteen more minutes.

Remember why you’ve decided to call your brother every week, even for a quick hello and catch-up chat? You want to connect regularly and frequently instead of letting your relationship drift apart. Keeping this in mind on those days when calling feels like a chore and an inconvenience.

You chose this New Year’s Resolution because you have a picture in your head of what you want. Go back and look at this picture regularly and frequently to keep your motivation high and constant.

May you keep practicing your New Year’s Resolution
bringing you greater Mental Health & Happiness!

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?


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.

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.

How do you want to feel?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How do you feel today? Ill? Frightened? Satisfied? Tired? Anxious?

How do you want to feel today? Happy? Excited? Accomplished? Loved? Generous?

canstockphoto8974678Today is a good day for you to try an experiment. If you are already feeling the way you want to feel today, then save this experiment for another day when you aren’t feeling so great. Here’s how you do the experiment.

Take a lesson from a well known strategy in the acting world. Decide how you want to feel. Now imagine you are feeling the way you want to feel, what would you be doing and need to do in order to feel that way. Start doing those things.

Let me give you an example. Imagine you want to feel happy. If you are feeling your own happiness, you would be smiling broadly, feeling a lightness in your step, a fullness in your heart with sparkles of joy in your words and voice. Your posture would be tall and proud with your chest and head held high. You might even begin spontaneously humming, singing or dancing to the music that only you can hear.

Can you imagine this? Great. Now start acting this way, right now. If you’re willing to take this experiment a bit farther, go out in the world and complete an errand acting full of your own joy and happiness then come back to this blog.

Did you do it? If you did I’m betting you feel Mentally Healthier & Happier now than you did at the beginning of this experiment. Isn’t that amazing!

The excitement of this experiment is that you can do this almost any time and any place. Are you about to testify in court, something you may not frequently do? How do you want to feel when you are being questioned? Strong, brave, honest and clear. Now imagine what action you will take to feel that way as you testify.

Want to feel more loving and compassionate during you next encounter with your out-laws? If and when you feel love and compassion, how to behave? What do you do? What do you say? How do you stand? What happens with your eye contact? Start acting that way with the people who use to be your in-laws and see if you not only feel greater love and compassion, but you also start acting like a more loving and compassionate person.

How do you want to feel during your next anything? Decide how you want to feel, then imagine and plan what you need to do in order to feel the way you want. The more you practice and practice and practice this experiment, the more it will become who you are, not just an experiment you complete.

Go ahead, give it a try. You may just begin to feel  Mentally Healthier & Happier as a result!


By Dr. Nancy Buck

Do you keep a journal? Maybe you write in a  diary? Not the kind of diary that people in the US call a calendar and folks in the UK call a diary. I mean the kind that preadolescent and adolescent girls keep, locking it with a key that’s kept in a secret hiding place.

If this isn’t part of your daily practice, let me invite you to begin a wonderful habit worth cultivating for your Mental Health & Happiness. Even if you think this may not be for you, give it a try for 30 days before you completely dismiss the possibility.

There are many different ways you can keep a journal. Your journal can keep your thoughts, experiences and learning from the daily Mental Health & Happiness challenges if you are participating.  Your journal may not be words at all, but doodles and drawings. You may prefer a combination of the two. Perhaps you are reading a daily contemplation or prayer book. You could journal about your thoughts and experiences inspired by your daily meditation or prayer. Or maybe you read a daily blog or book of inspirational quotes. Why not add that to your daily journaling experience.

Happily, there is no right or wrong way to journal. What you want is to discover your own way. There are more than a few books, blogs and articles you might find useful to help you find your own personal journaling practice. Let me share two of my favorites:

Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way advocates writing three morning pages where you dump all of you unhappy complaints and grumps that are circling in your brain. Eventually what may emerge are your deeper thoughts, feelings and ideas. This is the one that launched me into my practice. Another example I highly recommend are all of the books by SARK. These “books” really read more like a glimpse into her journals that include ideas in words and drawings.

Journaling is a habit worth starting. Not only will you be cultivating your creativity, you will also be learning about yourself and developing an improve relationship with yourself. You may also develop a more loving relationship with the greater worlds, both inside and outside or your skin.

If you give this a try and your Mental Health & Happiness don’t improve at the end of 30 days, perhaps you will decide this practice isn’t for you. Or perhaps you will decide, as I did, that hanging in there for another 30 days might be worth the effort. Before you know it you just might have developed a new, effective and helpful practice.