Does this title seem cheesy? Well, it is legit! Over the last 15 years the science of happiness is a serious area of study with validated research supporting it. Among the findings are:
1-The brain can be changed. The scientific term for this is “neuroplasticity” meaning you can teach the old brain new tricks.
2-We can train our brain like a muscle, by adopting new thought patterns that can rewire negative thoughts.
3-All of us are hard wired for negativity (blame evolution!) so we all need to learn new ways to react and deal with everyday stresses.
4-Re wiring the brain does not take a lot of effort!
A few simple things will go a long way to change sadness into happiness.
As a therapist, I am always looking for new tools that support my 5 main treatment goals for clients:
1) Conquer negative thoughts, 2) Gain confidence, 3) Boost optimism, 4)Reduce Stress and last: Improve Relationships. Don’t these 5 ares cover most everything?
One tool I have discovered to be very helpful is the website happify.com. This website is amazing and has helped many of my clientele gain daily tools to manage stress as they sign up for daily happify, a video, quote, story or exercises that sets the mood for your entire day. What I love about this website is it is run by Positive Psychologists, Mindfulness coaches and other PHD level professionals that use research to instruct online users HOW to achieve overall balance and happiness. In addition, they offer ways to track your happiness but implementing a test every 2 weeks that measures your happiness. As a therapist, I endorse this fantastic website and find it to be a great supplement to weekly therapy. Most of the methods are based on DBT, (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) which is a evidence based therapy with practical methods that work fairly quickly. Check out happify.com today and understand how “Happiness is Winnable”. Best part is it is free!
With our recent snowstorm, my ability to pretend winter isn’t a thing, has quickly evaporated. On sunny days I get through the winter by making sure I spend plenty of time standing in front of my south facing windows soaking up the warmth that shines through. On overcast days it can be more of a challenge. Add in the stress of holiday shopping and parties and expectations, and winter can be a bit of a downer (to say the least). Here are a few suggestions to help cope with winter blues:More
Do you ever find understanding your husband somewhat like predicting the current political climate? Explaining the presidential election to your son or daughter? If so, you’re not alone. Many women find their husband baffling, if not outright mysterious. If this describes your current feelings, here are seven secrets that can really help you understand him more deeply.
#1) He Really Does Love It When You Notice Him
Really notice him. How he looks. How handsome he is. How much he means to you. How cute he is in those nice fitting jeans. Although he won’t tell you this, he totally loves it when you show him attention. Men want to believe they’re handsome and desirable. Desirable as your very awesome husband. Help him believe that by noticing him often.
#2) It Really Is NOT All About Sex
Although his actions may seem to tell you otherwise, he doesn’t have sex on his mind 24/7. Just as women aren’t emotionally focused constantly (stereotype!), men aren’t sexually focused every moment as well. In fact, men crave affection almost as much as women do. Men in Salt Lake City love to be hugged. Kissed. Held. And! Men love to cuddle closely with “no strings attached” in bed. Truly! He isn’t always hoping that cuddling will lead to making love either. Ask him. But ready to be surprised by his answer.
#3) He’s Like A Teen Girl Emotionally Inside!More
Raising a child in today’s world can be like running in a hamster wheel. Tie shoes. Pull on backpacks. Pack lunch. Drive to school, work, lesson, practice, home. Squeeze in homework, story time, and don’t forget to floss. Repeat. Parents and children sweat on this daily journey, hoping to reach some final destination called success. After all, we live in a competitive world. For Jane to attend Harvard on a full-scholarship, slide into her desk 10 minutes early, organic lunch in tow, she’s going to need a lot of help and support along the way. It takes a lot of doing to raise this child.
Contrast this image with my experience in the play therapy room, where my primary purpose is to be with the child:
“My racing mind slows down. The run forward, look back halts to a peaceful stop and I am here. In that middle space called now. My eyes soak in the brown curl hovering over his left eye. A pale, freckled arm stretches long to reach the top shelf. Blue eyes with long lashes gaze as he tugs on the truck. The sand feels cool. We sift and pour, moving our toys in and out, over and under it. I smell the playground dirt on her socks. Our stomachs flip and flop as we feel her worries. Time is up. The door opens. Shuts. I sit, alone, on the tiny red chair, my knees higher than the table. The colors in the room are more vivid. I feel connected, grateful, alive.”
Experiences like this are common for me in the play therapy room. Why do I rarely feel this sense of well-being at home, with my own children? The answer is simple: I am too busy trying to hold the juicebox just right so it will not spill when I pass it over the back seat. You know the struggle. We can become so preoccupied with providing for physical needs, intellectual stimulation and talent development, we forget to give our children and ourselves one of the greatest gifts we can offer: our full presence.
To do this, carve out space every day to be with your child. We’re talking 5 minutes to start, nothing too ambitious. During this time, notice your child’s physical features, his rate of breathing, how she moves and smells. Hear the intonation of her speech. Soak her in, non-judgmentally, using all your senses. Does this sound odd? It may be helpful to think back to when your child was an infant. It may feel more natural to fully notice a newborn baby’s sound, appearance, smell, because you were seeing her for the first time. Why must we stop feeling that joy when our child is older? Give it a try tonight between teeth brushing and bedtime or while you wait for little sister at dance. The time of day does not matter. No special handbook or instruction manual required. 5 minutes is enough to start. All you need to be fully present with your child is the one thing he wants most: you.More
The Pixar movie Inside Out goes into the head of a little girl, Riley, who experiences her world through the lens of her emotions, each represented by a unique character, Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy and Sadness. Joy is the leader of this group of individual emotions/characters, and works throughout the movie to protect Riley from sad emotions. Finally at the end of the movie, Joy learns that sadness is was pulls people in, and allows Riley to make the connection with her parents that comforts her and helps her begin to manage all the other emotions that are swirling around in her growing brain. That connection with her parents can also be called secure attachment.
Sadness is a primary emotion, and primary emotions are our vulnerable emotions. Sometimes we don’t feel safe being vulnerable, so we mask our primary emotions with secondary emotions. Secondary emotions are the reactions to our primary emotions that are designed to protect our vulnerabilities, so we sometimes use them to put up walls or push others away. This serves an important purpose in situations where we don’t feel safe, but can cause problems when something happens that causes us to feel unsafe with a romantic partner, a family member, or close friend.
If someone we care about does something that hurts us, we might feel sadness, or rejection, or fear, when we are hurting we work to protect ourselves and mask our sadness, rejection, or fear with anger, disgust, or frustration. We lash out to prevent the other person from hurting us more. This behavior starts us on a cycle of pain and protection.
If we can figure out a way to break the cycle, we can rebuild trust and emotional bonds, and regain that sense of comfort and attachment to important people in our life. Just like in the movie, the key to breaking the cycle is to become vulnerable, to express our feelings of sadness or fear. This can begin to change our interactions, and as our loved ones are able to respond to our primary emotions, we are able to be comforted.
The next time your partner expresses anger or frustration or disgust, try to imagine what primary emotion they are experiencing that is being masked, then respond with empathy to that primary emotion. You may be surprised what creating a safe space for them to be vulnerable does for your relationship!More
I think that sometimes, culture is a big reason that we act the way we act and think the way we think. Sometimes, we are so blind to our culture, and it is so engrained into who we are, that we don’t even notice. That being said, I don’t think that our culture is always right in how it does influence us.
I asked my husband a question the other day and thought, “Wow, my husband would never ask me that. Why am I asking him, and neither one of us even blinked?” Even the mere thought of him asking me the question, made me laugh! What does this phenomenon mean about how we think and view our worth as women? As you read through these questions, envision your husband saying to you…
- Will you still find me attractive if I get stretch marks?
- Do I look fat in this outfit?
- Do you think I can be a parent and pursue a career?
- I am getting greys. What color should I dye my hair?
- Can you watch the kids while I run out?
- Should I get BOTOX for my wrinkles?
- Will you clean the toilets?
- Can we afford for me to go to school also?
- I am wondering how having another child will impact my job?
- Will you still desire me when I don’t look 25 anymore?
- I’m writing a menu for the week. Any requests?
- Hey I am setting up the kids’ dentist appointments for next month.
Now, maybe you laughed, maybe you didn’t, seeing in your mind your husband so worried about his physical appearance, but ask yourself, are these things I worry about as a wife? Are these things I have asked my husband? If so, why? How come when my husband gets fat and goes grey, there aren’t worries or even a conversation about it? If you are a male reading this, perhaps you are thinking, “I hate when my wife asks me those things. I don’t even think about those things unless she’s asking.” or “Wow, it doesn’t even register as wrong when she asks me those things. Maybe it’s engrained in me too.”
Whatever your reaction to this article, I hope you used it as an opportunity to evaluate how you value yourself and your partner. Take your thoughts from this and have a good conversation with one another about where you would like to make changes in the relationship, and where you feel like you are doing well.
Kathleen Baxter MS, LMFTMore
Competition can be extremely stressful, especially for children and teenagers. They can feel so much pressure that they will literally worry themselves sick. Kids will oftentimes try to prove their worth to themselves, their coaches, their peers, and their families through winning. Anxiety and the fear of failure affect their performance—which makes them even more fearful. It becomes a vicious cycle!
I recently wrote an article in conjunction with renowned PGA Tour Golf Instructor, Boyd Summerhays, on ways to best help Junior Golfers. After completing the article, it dawned on me that the information would be beneficial to all junior athletes and their families. Obviously, the intricate details about golf in the article are unique to golfers, but the same concepts (bolded section headings) can definitely be applied to any sport or competition that your child is engaging in:
Good luck to you and your family! I hope you can find joy, fulfillment, learning, and bonding through the competition (and not just stress!).More