Tag Archives: satisfaction

Creative Endeavors

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN


Are you a creative person?

If you answered no to that question, what is your evidence? Do you point to the lack of artwork you have produced, or claim there is no original song or lyric that you composed? Perhaps you have never designed a building or the interior of any space, including the interior space of a book.

All of this may be true, and yet there is no doubt that you are a creative person.

For instance, what have you done today? What else do you plan to accomplish this week? Is anyone else on the planet going to experience their day exactly the same way you are? This is all of your own making based on  your moment to moment decisions, accomplishments, and creations.

The problem for many of us when considering the question of being or not being a creative person is the limited definition we give to the idea of creativity. Please take a moment and realize that not only are we creative, we are incredibly creative. Our creation starts with how we begin our day and continues with each choice we make. These choices include what we will wear, to what we eat, to what we say. All of these choices are from our own design and creation.

Even if you wear a uniform, not everyone in your school, hospital, military troop, or company looks exactly the same even if everyone is following the dress code. Originality, uniqueness and creativity is at the root of these differences even when they are subtle.

singingWhat has creativity got to do with Mental Health & Happiness? Some claim that spending time in creative endeavors is what feeds our souls. Glaser’s need for fun can be understood as our genetic instruction for play, creativity and expression of our originality. Mark Twain defined fun as the thing that you do when you don’t have to do it.

What ever you call it, which ever definition you abide by, spending time in creative endeavors significantly improves and maintains our good Mental Health & Happiness.

And yet there are some of you reading this who believe that you just aren’t creative. Let me invite you to approach this from a different angle.

Do you have any hobbies? Let me list a few and see if you can find something that resonates:

Gardening                                                                   Playing a musical instrument

Dancing                                                                       Doodling or noodling

Writing                                                                         Building

Sewing                                                                        Furniture arranging (and for some re-                                                                                                              arranging, and more rearranging)

Cooking                                                                       Knitting

Wood working                                                            Calligraphy

Story telling                                                                 Repeating movie dialogues

Amateur theater, including costume design, set design, etc

Table-scaping                                                             Pet training

Pet grooming                                                              Home staging

Get the idea? Any time you participate in any of these, including your own hobbies you are engaging with your creative endeavors. Your creativity does not need to be publicly acclaimed or acknowledge. Creative endeavors are all about the personal, internal joy, happiness and satisfaction you experience while participating.

Want to improve your Mental Health & Happiness? Start noticing and acknowledging all the ways you are a creative person. You are an absolute original, inventing, re-inventing, creating and re-creating yourself every day. Talk about creative endeavors . . . !

Routines: A Comfort and Mind-Numbing

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Presently my life is undergoing a complete change. I feel as though I’m living in a snow globe that has been turned upside-down. Much is getting turned upright again, but the snow is still swirling about me attempting to settle into new patterns and routines. I’m about to start a new job and move into a new home. As a result my everyday routines are now completely altered and upended.

What are your daily patterns and routines? Do you go to bed about the same time every night? Is your morning ritual consistent? Chances are your answer is “yes.” We humans tend to create then follow the same routines and rituals in many aspects of our lives. These routines and habits help us to meet our need for safety and security, the psychological component of the basic need for survival. And these habits allow our brain to go on automatic so we don’t have to spend a lot of focused energy making a thoughtful choice at every turn during our days.

For instance there are probably many more habits and routines in your life than you are even aware of. Ever take a class and discover that the same students sit in the same seats week after week? This same pattern is evident at church or temple services, company trainings, meeting and workshops, and other similar times and places where the same people gather in the same places on more than one occasion. Choosing the same seat without making any kind of a conscious thought about this decision is what most people do to feel safer and more secure.

You probably park in the same general area when you visit your usual grocery store. Both the store and the parking spot is a habit you developed that saves you time and energy. You probably travel the same route and roads to and from your job. It is very rare that you consult a map or choose a different route unless some new construction is slowing down your travel.

At the same time these habits and routines help you meet your need for safety and security, they can become tedious and monotonous. In fact the joy and delight of taking a vacation or trip is the opportunity for a great adventure. Now you must get out of your routines and habits. During these times you actually are more alert, awake and fully  present in your “now” because you have to be. You are taking new roads, choosing new seats in new restaurants and theaters. You can’t allow your mind to click into auto pilot. Since everything is new your full attention is required.

But having everything new for too long a period of time can become overwhelming and stressful. I am in this very spot now. I’m craving the mundane, routine and habitual. And I’m fully confident that a month from now I will have found the rhythm in my new job. It may take a bit longer to get unpacked and settled in my new home. But I trust my desire for safety and security will lead me to eventually create the home where I feel settled and safe.

If your Mental health & Happiness is not at a pleasing or satisfying level for you give one of these alternatives a try for improvement:

  • Create more regular routines and habits. Just as following the same patterns and rituals can help settle and calm a baby, the same can happen for you. It is routines, habits and regular patterns that can help meet your need for safety and security. Emphasize these habits now to see if that improves your feelings of safety and security leading to improved Mental Health & Happiness
  • Change your regular habits and routines. If you always travel the same route to and from work, go a different way. If you always shop at the same grocery store, visit the same library, regularly eat at your favorite restaurant, go in search of a new grocery store (perhaps of a different ethnicity) visit a local independently owned book store instead of your library, and go in search of one more restaurants to become your next favorite. Or go on vacation, someplace you have never been before! It may just be time to get out of your comfort zone, stretch your feelings of safety and security, expand your adventures to meet your need for fun and learning! See if this improves your level of satisfaction and Mental Health & Happiness.

Solitary Pleasures

by Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

At 4:00 AM on a spring morning my eldest sister sat up in bed, looked out the window and discover that a gentle rain was falling. This was such wonderful news! She raced to get dressed and eat a quick breakfast. With glee she plopped herself in the middle of her ever growing garden and began one of her favorite gardening activities — weeding.

I was not born with the passionate gardening bug that my sister was blessed with. But I do have my own solitary pleasures that fills me with delight, joy and satisfaction.  However none involve waking before dawn while sitting in the rain and mud. But I will rise early and brave the cold before sunrise to be the first on the slopes skiing the first sensational run on perfectly groomed snow.

Mark Twain defined fun as the thing that you do when you don’t have to do it. For many of us having fun involves other people. But what about those times when you don’t have another? I’m an avid tennis player, but tennis is hard to play without a partner, (although not impossible with a good tennis wall, tennis ball machine, or a solo session practicing my serves).


When I was a child my father would come home from work, change into his play clothes and go out to hit golf balls. In 45 minutes he would hit hundreds of balls about 100 yards, walk to his designated target area while collecting all golf balls, then hit them to the next designated target area. Inclement weather did not deter him. In fact, a local newspaper took a picture of Dad bundled up in his warm clothes hitting golf balls despite several inches of snow covering the ground. Hitting golf balls was my father’s solitary daily pleasure with the added benefit of improving his short game and score.

What is your solitary pleasure? It might be a physical activity like yoga or hiking. Or it could be hand crafting like carpentry or needlework. Maybe it’s memorizing special poems or writing your own lyrics to familiar songs.

Whether it’s a walking meditation or a drumming session, here’s a hint to improve your Mental Health & Happiness. Now is a great time to start cultivating a solitary pleasure. For those of you who can’t even imagine carving out 15 minutes of solitary time, NOW is the time to develop your relationship with yourself that is sorely needed. Learning how to meet your need for fun alone is a lifelong habit worth nurturing, growing, and promoting.

Why can’t everyone else change so I get what I want?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Dr. Glasser defines stress as the difference between what we want and what we are getting. This is also the motivation for all behavior. So inspired, we all act on the world to try and change it so we can get what we want. Too often what we are acting upon in the world, what we are trying to change is another person.

I’d be a better wife if only my husband would change. I’d make a nice evening meal if he would promise to be home to eat. But he never keeps a consistent schedule so I never know when to plan dinner. 

I’m a great parent but my children won’t listen and cooperate with me. I’m trying to get all our chores done and the house picked up so we can go on a play date. But these children keep making more messes as soon as I clean one. All their screaming and fooling around drives me nuts. Why can’t they just cooperate this one time so we can go where they want to go? 

My boss doesn’t appreciate how hard I try to do a good job. Why should I work so hard when I never get any appreciation. Not only do I do what she asks, I go out of my way to do even more. But she never notices, she never gives me credit. She only tells me the things I still haven’t done to her satisfaction. 

In each of these situations the person is lacking satisfaction because the husband, the child, the boss is not doing what the wife, the parent or the employee wants and expects. Too often complaining and waiting for the other person to change are not the only things that the wife, the parent and the employee are doing to try to get their “other”to change. (Refer to deadly habits explained in other blogs.)

This might be a good time to take advice from Viktor Frankl. The chances that the wife, the mother, the employee and YOU will be able to change the other person are questionable. And in the process of trying to change the other person you run the risk of damaging your relationships.

We are rarely able to change the situation if the situation we are trying to change is another person. Let’s start from that understanding.

Accept Frankl’s challenge to change yourself from the very beginning!

Do you want to be a better spouse? What would you be doing, thinking, feeling as a better wife? Start now instead of waiting for your husband to change.

Do you want to be a great parent? Start now, whether your children are cooperating with you or not. You might even alter your definition. Parenting uncooperative children well is your new definition of being a great parent.

Do you work hard, doing even more than you are asked? Can you give yourself the pat on the back, an internal reward of recognition? Can you start noticing and recognizing all the things your boss is doing for and with you, rather than only noticing what she is not doing? Hmm. Are you getting back what you are giving out?

Meet the challenge of changing yourself. In order to get more of what you want avoid trying to change another. By focusing on changing yourself and not the other you will maintain connected relationships and improve your Mental Health & Happiness.