Searching for Happiness by Linda Butler

So happy! That’s what one of my Facebook friends posted one day. I couldn’t help but wonder…okay, what? She never elaborated.

Linda is a therapist with over 30 years of experience in the mental health field. She works as a therapist in Hudson, WI at Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, LLC. She can be reached at linda@collaborativemn.com or 715-808-7200.

Have you ever had moments of complete happiness? I have. It is so elusive, fleeting and simple. Just as quickly, our mood can change, the happiness gone.

It seems that oftentimes it isn’t connected to an event. That would be just too simple. But instead it’s a feeling of peace, contentment, and the joy of being alive.

Clients are asked to state their counseling goals in writing when entering therapy. Just to be happy, is frequently a goal. It’s my job to operationally define that for them, clarify their expectations for themselves, for others and for the universe. Sometimes it’s figuring out what is in our control and what isn’t, how to take better care of ourselves, or how to recover from a devastating experience. Some of us have chronic conditions and problems that make it hard to be optimistic about life.

In “The Happiness Project” Gretchen Rubin reports that current research shows that “genetics account for 50 percent of the tendency toward happiness; life circumstances such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation and religious affiliation account for 10-20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.”

As a therapist, this research reinforces for me the idea that people can boost their own happiness just by how they think about themselves and their life. Counseling is an opportunity for guidance and support through those critical decisions that determine your experience in life.

So the comment “So happy!” may have more to do with my friend’s perception of reality than an actual event…might be worth thinking about!

Change – Both hard and possible.

Change is hard. As almost all people know, it can be really hard to change! When we think about ways to move towards change, some ideas work well and others not so much. Here is a list of routes to change from least effective to most effective (according to Ann Betz, coach and poet).

Some ways we try to make changes:

Ignore the problem – pretend everything is okay, push the feeling aside…

  • This is NOT effective

Control the environment – make sure you don’t encounter stress

  • Helps a little but most stressors are unavoidable at some point

Name your emotion – short venting

  • It’s great to name the emotion, however we still haven’t gotten to problem solving.

Put attention on what’s important – explore what fulfills you

  • Here we get clear on our intent for ourselves and for our lives, this is important groundwork for the next steps!

Reframing – learn to look at things from a new angle

  • Now we are able to look at problems with a bit more objectivity and find new, healthier ways of thinking.

Mindfulness – learn to be in the here and now, get present

Often with depression, anxiety and other issues we are living in the past or the future. Learning to be mindful involves staying present to what’s going on right now. Until we learn to stay present, change can be hard to come by.

Think about the above routes to change and how you can move yourself towards the bottom few ideas. Using these tools will certainly move you closer to the change you desire to help you in grow.

Individual therapy is one way you can get the support you need to make the changes you aspire for. http://collaborativemn.com/individual-therapy/

Discipline your children from a place of love and care.

Where did we get the crazy idea that to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Apply this to yourself – if I make you feel bad, then you will do better. Is this really when we tend to do better? From my experience these conditions lead people to rebel, give up, argue, etc…

Children do better when they feel better. Just like with all people, children can only access their rational brain when they are feeling positive. And so comes the idea of positive discipline.

To use the ideas of positive discipline you need to work to bring the message of love first. Often children need to have a sense of belonging and significance before they can learn what we want them to learn. If we can get clear on our intent of teaching our child lessons out of love instead of anger, they will be much more inclined to hear us.

Why is it so hard to do this? Because we all have buttons and triggers and our kids now how to push them!! We often know better but we don’t do better. When our buttons are pushed we go into the reptilian brain.

The reptilian brain is where our emotions take over and we can no longer access the more logical parts of our brains. When you feel your reptilian brain kicking in take a timeout, reconnect with your positive emotion and go back to your child in a positive frame of mind. In this act, we teach our children a lesson in and of itself.

My challenge to you: When disciplining your children, practice coming from a place of love and caring.

Learn more at: http://collaborativemn.com/family-therapy/