15 Life Lessons you need to learn

By David Joel Miller

What life lessons do you still need to learn?

Life Lessons

Life Lessons
Photo courtesy of Flickr (rseidel3)

There are certain life lessons you will need to learn soon or later. If you were taught them when you were young then you got off to a good start in life. If no one taught you these things you will need to go looking for teachers that can help you learn these lessons and develop these skills

1. Learn all you can about yourself

You will spend your whole life with you. Others will come in and out your life. Some will leave. You will always be there. Learn what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Learn about your values and goals.

2. How to be genuinely happy

You need to learn how to make yourself happy. No other person can make you happy. You may be happier with someone than without them but that should be a choice not a necessity.

Things will not make you happy. It may be easier to be happy when you have the basic necessities of life but more is not always better. Learn to be happy with what you have and then more is more but less is not an end to your happiness.

3. To believe in yourself

You need to be your own cheerleader. Believe in yourself. Be the best you can be and accept that if you please you then that is more than enough.

Believe that if you set your mind to doing something then you will do it. That does not mean you will win every prize or conquer every battle. You will learn that if you set out on a task you will give it your best and that if you do not get to the top it will not be for a lack of effort.

4. Love yourself

If you do not love yourself you make it hard for others to love you. Work on genuinely being the best you there is. Love yourself unconditionally. You are worthy of love whether you win or lose. If you love yourself you will never be a loser. There will just be time you finished in a different place

5. It is OK to fail

You do not hit the target every time. No one makes the basket on every throw. Cut yourself some slack and accept that the cost of accomplishing things includes the times you will miss the mark.

6. The buck stops with you

The buck stops with you. You are in control of your life. There may be times you have limited control. In any circumstance you can choose your attitude. As long as you stay mentally on track you are in charge. Make the best choices you can in the circumstances you find yourself and then give yourself credit for trying.

7. You need positive friends

You will live up to your friends or you will live down to them. Look at your friends. That is who you are about to become. Pick friends wisely.

Friends will support you in trying and succeeding. Fake friends will work to see that you fail. If you want to be a winner hang with the winners. Being a winner is not about the things you accomplish it is about the attitude you have towards what you do. Pick friends with positive attitudes.

8. Help others and accept their help

Do not be one-sided. Help others, it makes you feel good. Let others help you. Accepting help is not a sign of weakness. We all need some help and encouragement from time to time.

Let others have the experience of feeling good when they help you.

9. Communication is about understanding others

Communication is not about making sure others understand and agree with what you are saying. Good communication is about understanding what others are saying.

Lots of heated arguments happen when people think the other person is saying one thing and in fact both people really agree on the subject they just use different words to describe it.

10. Feelings are your friends not your foes

Lots of people were taught bad relationships with feelings. They try not to feel. For them sadness is weakness.

To feel happiness you need to be able to feel sadness. Feelings are not your enemies. More than half of the brain is outside your head. Those feelings in your gut or that pain in your neck, those are feelings your nervous system is sending. Listen to the messages the feeling part of your body sends you. You will be better informed and a better person if you make peace with your feelings and get them on your side.

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Take the things you do seriously. Take the big things that matter seriously. Do not take yourself too seriously. We all make mistakes. No one is perfect and those blooper reals can make for some hilarious viewing. Learn to enjoy your own blooper show.

12. Love and laugh

Learn to live and learn to laugh. Love is not about owning or possessing. Love is a feeling we have when we cherish something. Do not try to hold on too tightly to love or you can squeeze it to death.

13. Believe in something besides yourself

It is good to believe in yourself. It is better to believe in something more than you. Believe in right and wrong. Believe in a higher power. Believe in truth and justice. Do not believe that you and you alone have the ultimate definitions of all these things.

14. Learn how to set goals

Learn how to set goals and you will avoid long periods of your life when you drifted aimlessly. If your goal is to drift along and enjoy the scenery for a while do it consciously as part of a plan and hold tight to all the experiences you have and all the things you learn.

15. Learn How to play

Life is not all seriousness. No one gets out alive anyway. Learn to play and learn to have fun. If you have to take the trip enjoy the ride.

Work to teach yourself these life lessons. What other life lessons have you learned? What lessons do you still need to learn?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

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12 Ways to make you head a better neighborhood

By David Joel Miller

Is your mind a scary place? 12 Ways to clean up that neighborhood.

Bad Neighborhood

Bad Neighborhood
Photo courtesy of Flickr (dystopos)

1. Adopt a daily affirmation

Fill up that space between your ears with positive thoughts. Tell yourself you can. Remind yourself of the things that you do well.

Self-talk matters and replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations can really help improve your mental neighborhood.

2. Before bedtime make up a list of things that you did well today

It is easy to focus on the mistakes and to beat yourself up over them. To make you mind more positive make sure that you learn to accept compliments and to give yourself credit for things done well. You need lots of thoughts about how you did something well to withstand the storms of doubt that are sure to come.

3. Think of a favorite mental place and visit your happy place whenever times get bad

Remember those good times and places. Take a short mental trip back to the mountains or the beach. Remember that time you were at the theme park or at grandma’s house.

Wherever and whenever you had a moment of happiness, hold fast to that memory and reinforce it so that it is a bright spot in your inner thoughts.

4. Increase the number of friends that inhabit your memories

More friends, more happy memories. Watch out for acquaintances and drinking buddies. True friends want the best of you. You may have few or you may have many but cherish all you have.

5. Face your fears and anxieties

If something is scaring you do not cower in negative thoughts. Face that fear boldly. Let it know that you will not allow that fear to ruin your mental home. Take small steps to create a safer world and to loosen the grip fear and anxiety holds on your mind.

6. Stop angering yourself

People do not anger you. You may think they are but realize that there are a lot of sick and stupid people out there. They do sick and stupid things. Do not let them ruin your inner peace. Rather than insisting the world be the way you want it to be work on changing whatever small aspect you have the power to change.

Mostly what you can change is yourself and your attitude.

7. Forgive yourself

If you have made an error, been less than you wanted to be, learn to forgive yourself.

8. Accept your past made you who you are

You may have experiences in the past that you would never want to undergo again. Accept that those experiences made you the unique person you are and then try to move forward from there. Make peace with the past but do not let it continue to run your present.

9. Stop blaming others and insisting they change

Others are who they are. You are who you are. Take the actions to make you the best possible you. Do not blame your circumstances on them. They may have wronged you, hurt and injured you. You can let that run your life or you can choose to take back as much control of your life as is possible.

Creating a happy successful life is the best way to erase their influence on your life.

10. Stop looking for someone or something to make you better

You are the best expert on you. You can choose the things that are right for you. Do not wait for that one person that can come along and “fix” you. Make use of the coaches and counselors that come your way. Learn from each and every teacher but remember you are the one who is directing your thoughts and take them in the direction you need them to go.

11. Seeing things as black or white, all or nothing

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that things are either perfect or no good. Having some happiness is better than none. Enjoy the things you have. Be grateful for the blessings you receive. No one is ever all the things they want to be.

12. Thinking that your past has determined your future

You past set you on the path to a possible future. You have many possible futures. Do not think that because you have one past that you have only one possible future. Be the architect of the path forward.

Set out today on your own mental urban renewal project and see what a wonderful neighborhood you own mind can be.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

Things you need to stop worrying about

By David Joel Miller

Worrying about the wrong things is keeping you stuck

Some things may be worth worrying about. Especially if that worry will spur you to take action and change something. There are a whole lot of things that consume people’s time in worry that really should not be on your list of things to worry about. Chuck these topics of worry for a happier more productive life.

1. Stop worrying about what others think about you

The more you do the more people will find to criticize you about. What others think about you is none of your business. Do things because you think they are right, do them because they please you and because this is what you chose to do. Let others opinions go.

2. Stop worrying that you are not good enough

You are however you are. Accept yourself as you are and then go on to make the best of who and what you are. You are plenty good enough for you. If there is room for improvement focus on the things you would like to be better and let go of the thoughts that you are not yet all you want to be.

You are and will be throughout your life a work in progress not a finished person.

3. Stop worrying about what you “should” do

That list of “should” left over from childhood is holding you back. Do not do things because others said you should. If you think it is right do it. Do only those things that are right for you.

Do what you are doing. Do it to the best of your ability and in a fair and honest way but never sweat whether the thing you have chosen to do is what you “should” be doing.

While doing one thing do not worry about other things you should be doing. Stay focused on the moment or quit and change what you are doing.

You are always doing what you are doing now.

4. Do not worry that people do not agree with you

There are always people who will disagree no matter who you are or what you will do. New, innovate things arise because someone does something that others never thought of.

You will not be able to make everyone happy. Start by making yourself happy. Consider the consequences of who will disagree with you and why but the final authority on you is you.

5. Do not worry about someone else’s issues

You can only change you. If someone else has issues then they need to be willing to change. You can offer support if they chose to change but you are not in charge of others’ lives and they are not in control of yours.

Focus on your own issues, those things you can and should be working on and offer others the same option.

6. Getting someone to do what you want

You can waste a lot of time on manipulation and trying to control others. Work on being the kind of person others would want to work with rather than trying to make them do things your way.

Your way may be good for you but it might not be what someone else needs. Especially stay focused on the results you want rather than on making others do things the way you would do them.

7. That you do not have enough education

Plenty of people have accomplished great things with minimal education. People frequently use a lack of formal education as an excuse for not doing anything.

Do what you can with the training you have. Practical experience is a great teacher. Get more education if this is a requirement for a field you want to work in. You are never too old for more learning. Many people have to retrain multiple times for new careers. People with one degree decide that field is not a fit for them and change occupations.

Make the most of what you know and learn something new each day. You will be amazed at how far you can go.

8. Do not worry about your looks.

Make the most of what you have but always stay focused on who you are inside and what you can do. Sure in some fields a certain look is valued. But there are plenty of stories about how a person who is driven to succeed made it even though they did not fit the normal look.

A quick glance around any large employer will show you that there are lots of people working there that have less than perfect looks.

9. That you can’t face a problem

Most problems have to be faced one way or another. Even if you run you have had an encounter with that problem. Run once and you may have to run the rest of your life. Problems do not disappear when you run from them. Many problems shrink as soon as you begin to take actions to work on them.

10. What you should have done

The past is gone. Worrying about what you should have done prevents you from doing in the only time you ever really have – the now.

Keep doing. Accept that some things will work out. You will have some regrets and along the way you will accomplish some things you can be proud of.

11. That you are not doing enough

Do what you can. Make an honest effort. That is enough. If you can do more do it. Time spent worrying that you are not doing enough is time not spent working or relaxing. Self-care, time not working, is a part of keeping yourself productive.

12. That you are doing too much

If you are highly productive give yourself credit. If this is wearing you out cut back. Practice saying “No.” If you need to do this because of a boss or a position you hold then relax and stop worrying about it.

Do not concern yourself that you are doing more and someone else is doing less. You are not them and they are not you.

13. Things that are out of your control

Plan for the unexpected. Work to mitigate the effects of disasters and the unexpected but worrying about them wastes time trying to control the uncontrollable when you should be making the most of the opportunities at hand.

Worrying about the unexpected wears you out and accomplishes nothing.

14. That you are going to fast

Some things take more time than others. Some people move and work at a fast pace. It you are making too many mistakes slow down. Work at the pace that is best of you.

15. That you made a mistake

If you made mistakes, correct the ones that you can. If it can’t be corrected learn from it. Most mistakes are small things in the long run. What is the lesson you needed to learn? The more you try to accomplish the greater the risk that some things will not work out. Do not think of these less than perfect outcomes as mistakes. They are learning opportunities.

16. Worry about money

Worrying about money does make more of it. Somehow those with little money get by and those with a lot never seem to have enough. If you have money problems work on ways to spend less, stretch what you have farther and make more.

Worrying is wasted effort. Learn all you can about money and finances. Do not be misled into thinking that if you just had more money your troubles would disappear. You would still have problems they would just be different problems.

17. That there is something wrong with you

You are fine just the way you are. If you have medical or psychiatric concerns see a doctor or a therapist. If you have legal or financial issues see a professional in that field.

Learn to accept yourself the way you are and then work on becoming a better more skilled person.

18. That you do not have the best things

People who judge you based on the things you have are shallow people. Judging yourself that way will make you shallow. The more you have the farther away the goal of having the “best things” moves.

There is no end to the things people think they need and then tomorrow those things are passé.

Anyone out there jealous of my collection of 8 track cassettes and 8 inch floppy diskettes?

19. That your opinion is wrong.

You have the right to your opinion. You also have the right to sometimes be wrong. Accept that no one is right all the time.

When making decisions and taking actions consider the possibility that you could be wrong. When you get new information or situations change reconsider you opinion.

Do not beat yourself up for having had an incorrect opinion and especially do not waste time on worrying that today’s opinion may be tomorrow’s error.

20. That people are taking advantage of you

Be careful in your dealings. Do not assume others have your best interest at heart. Make sure you do things because you want to and they are right for you.

Once you make those decisions do not worry if someone else is getting something out of your interaction.

Reserve the right to periodically reevaluate things and change relationships as needed. Worrying will not protect you from being taken advantage of. Careful research and good advice will help here.

21. That others are better than you

There will always be someone better than everyone else. Records only stand so long and then someone breaks them.

You can’t be the best at everything. You may not be the best at anything. Work on being the best you can be and accept that if you approve of yourself then what you do will be good enough.

22. That you are out of time

Time keeps moving forward. Make the best of what you have and then let it go. Worry that you are out of time waists some of the precious time you do have.

23. That things you want will never happen

If they did happen then you would only want more. Some things we want happened and some do not. In retrospect, as we grow older, some of the things we wanted in the past we become glad never happened.

There are 23 different things that you could worry about, but why would you? Stop worrying about as many of these things as you can and see if your life does not become happier and more productive.

Are there other things you have found that you no longer need to worry about?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

How to be on time

By David Joel Miller

How do those consistently punctual people do it?

Clock keeps you on time

Being on time
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Some people are always, almost pathologically, on time. Others are chronically late. Our western society is run on time. Things start at a particular time and then we are off to the next thing which also has a time. It can feel like we are being controlled by the clock.

The twentieth century was heralded as the century of labor-saving devices. With all that time we saved you would think no one would ever be hurried again. The result has not been an increase in available time but more working over time to pay for all these labor and time-saving devices.

Even with all those technological advancements some people are always on time and some are always late. Without getting into a discussion of the psychological factors that affect punctuality, and there are many psychological reasons people are on time or late arrivals, let’s look at how the Punctual People do things

1. Punctual People get to bed on time.

If you think your day starts when you get up in the morning you would be way off. Getting plenty of sleep increases punctuality in the same way it increases productivity.

If you stay up late you will pay for it the whole next day. Tired people drag and then have to rush from thing to thing all day long.

2. Punctual People start their day early

Late risers are already behind schedule when their feet hit the floor. They feel rushed and harried from start to finish. Let one thing go wrong and the rest of their day is off kilter.

Burn breakfast and there is no time to make a new one. The kids or you go hungry.

Plenty of road rage is caused by people who start out late and then need to “make up time” on the road way. This rushing is bad for your driving and is bad for your health.

Start your day early and there is time if something goes wrong.

3. Punctual People allow enough time

You know that your morning drive takes thirty minutes but you hang around reading your email and drinking coffee till quarter till. The result you have to rush and you are still late.

The worst papers come in from the students who wait till the night before and then try to write a paper in a few hours that they should have been working on all semester.

Bosses can easily tell when someone only allows an hour for an activity that should take four. The result is hurried, partially done and almost always late if it is done at all.

Give yourself plenty of time for each thing you do and your will be more creative, do a better job and still get it in on time.

Be realistic about how long things will take and you will run on time a lot more.

4. Productive People do not schedule themselves 100% of their time.

Early in the industrial age factory owners leaned that you can’t schedule factories at 100% of capacity. Try to get above a certain productivity and something is bound to go wrong. A machine breaks or jams, shuts down the whole lie and the result is that productivity falls drastically,

People need down time for rest, relaxation and repair in the same way machines need maintenance if we are to avoid a major emergency.

Punctual people do not schedule themselves nonstop. They allow small gaps throughout their day so that if one activity runs long they do not throw their whole day out of whack.

5. Punctual People prefer waiting to being late

Punctual People enjoy those relaxing moments when they get somewhere before the event starts. They do not mind waiting on others. A few minutes to relax between things is both healthy and it keeps you on schedule the rest of the day.

6. Punctual People start early

If you begin your work on that report or paper early there is little need to rush and you are more likely to be done on time.

Getting off the procrastination ride and doing the hard things first assures they will get done on time. Waiting till the last-minute sets you up to run overtime and be off schedule from then on.

7. Punctual People use their calendar

Punctual people plan ahead. The plan on doing things on schedule and that means living enough time on their calendar for getting something done. It also means not scheduling things too close together so that getting from one thing to the next throws them off schedule.

8. Punctual people feel disrespected when you are late

Punctual people manage their stress by staying organized and planning ahead. They do not feel stressed because they started way before this meeting with you.

They may have gone to bed early, gotten up early and left home for your meeting early all to avoid rushing and arriving stressed. It is also likely that they have planned some flex time between seeing you and the next thing they need to do.

When you are late you take away that tranquility they have created and dump your stress directly in their lap.

When you are late there is less time to spend with you, less gets done, meetings are abrupt or hurried and if they run overtime you have just stolen some time that they had planned to spend with someone else.

There are some things in life where you do not need to observe a strict start and stop time. But most of life is run by the clock. Show up late for court and you may lose your case. Be late for a job interview and you reduced the chances of getting hired.

People who are on time are seen as dependable, they do what they say they will. So if you want to join the on-time club, consider adopting some of the characteristics of Punctual People and see if this does not reduce your stress in the process of making you a more Punctual Person.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

18 Ways you are a really bad parent

By David Joel Miller

18 ways to be a really bad parent

child alone

Insecure child – from Flickr

Here are 18 really bad ways to treat children. Do them enough and you can destroy a child’s life. Some parents do these things out of ignorance, others out of meanness. (Want to be a good parent then avoid these traps.)

How many of these child warping parenting techniques do you use?

1. Never tell your kids you love them

Parents are for discipline not love. They should know you love them, you feed them sometimes right?

You can be strict or you can be lenient as long as the kids know you love them. Strict without love is abusive. Lenient without love can turn into neglect.

2. Point out everything wrong with your child

Point out every mistake they make. Keep at them until they get it right or give up. Over the years I have seen a whole lot of people who came from non-affirming homes. No matter how hard they tried they could never please their caregiver. Eventually most stopped trying. They also developed a concept of themselves that they were incapable of doing anything well. Some of these people had extraordinary talent; just no one ever told them so.

Pick on them every chance you get. Point out the flaws in their face and how ugly they are. Prepare them to deal; with the “real world.”

The result of this sort of bullying is people who develop a victim mentality. They think they deserved to be bullied and they become permanent victims or they get angry and they strike out at anyone and everyone.

Constantly running a child down is a form of child abuse, not good parenting.

3. Belittle children in public whenever possible

Make sure you publicly belittle your child and you will teach them to avoid others. This can result in a lot of social phobias, people afraid to be in public because they know they will be put down by others.

Break their spirit while they are young and they will never have to attempt anything that might show you up.

4. Do all the things you told them not to

Remind your children to “do as I say not as I do.” This sets them up to be hypocrites and liars. Do not be surprised when they do sneaky things behind your back. You taught them to say one thing and do another.

5. Never teach anything, make them find out for themselves

Remind them you shouldn’t have to explain things to them. Call them stupid if they ask questions. Keep them ignorant and they will be slow to catch onto how lame their caregiver was.

6. Remind them you expect them to be a failure

Tell them often enough and they will live down to your expectations. Most kids want to be just like their parents.

7. Do not ever talk about the future with them, they have no future.

The best way to repeat the cycle of dropping out of school, early parenthood and a life on welfare with no job and no hope is to set this example yourselves. Let them know that you expect them to be an even bigger failure than you were.

Make sure you never share any of life’s lessons you have learned with them.

8. Remind them constantly you are the king in this castle and they are peasants

Set them up to be the victims in a controlling relationship the rest of their life. Undermine their self-esteem and intuitive.

9. Tell them how they should be feeling

Make sure you invalidate everything they feel. If they tell you a feeling tell them no they are not feeling that, they are feeling something else. Remind them that their only purpose in life is to feel the way you tell them to feel.

The expressions “You should not feel that way” and “you should be feeling the same way I do.” Will help undermine their ability to feel what they are feeling.

10. Never let them think for themselves

Make sure your children do not learn to think for themselves. This makes them easier to control. You will need to control them for a while though eventually they will become controlled by drug dealers, pimps or abusive partners.

Congratulate yourself you have created an easy to control adult with the emotions of a child.

11. Tell them everything, never ask

Convince them that their opinions do not matter. Make them doubt themselves and they will never attempt anything worth doing.

12. Never explain anything; it is over their heads anyway.

Create in your children the love of ignorance. This will protect them from schools, learning and the risk of ever accomplishing anything in life.

13. Family communication means you tell them

Do not let them ask to have their needs met. Keep all family communication a one way street. You didn’t talk to their other parent why would you want to talk to them?

14. Toughen them up for the real world

Make sure you instil a negative dog-eat-dog attitude in your children. You would not want them turning soft on you. People who do for others are soft. You are hardening your children up so they can be takers.

15. Teach them what a bully really looks like

If you beat the stuffing out of them they will know how to take the beating that others will give them. Make sure that they know the only thing they deserve in life is a good beating.

16. Never tell them the truth about anything, keep them guessing

You don’t owe children the truth. They wouldn’t recognize it if you told them anyway. Keep them, believing all the stories you tell then for as long as you can.

17. Give them nicknames – stupid, lazy, ugly, fats

If you call all your kids by pet names you can turn them into animals. It will be fun to watch them quarrel and hurt each other.

18. Forget being consistent, keep them guessing

Good parents are consistent and loving, two things you would never want to be.

If you enjoy doing all these things to your children you will love watching them do the same things to your grandchildren, should you get to keep them in your life that long.

If these recommendations appall you then make sure you do the opposite and nurture those children.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

12 Relationships that make you unhappy

By David Joel Miller

Some relationships problems are guaranteed to make you unhappy

Humans have and need relationships whether you want them or not. Some relationships contribute to happiness and some create a great deal of misery. Romantic relationships can make us happy and they can be the greatest source of unhappiness. But lovers are not the only relationships that can be making you unhappy.

How many of these happiness sabotaging relationships are in your life?

1. You do not like yourself

If you do not like yourself you make it hard for others to like you. We teach others how to treat us and the primary way we do that is the way we treat ourselves.

Treat yourself poorly and you set up a life full of unhealthy relationships.

2. You have partners and associates but no real friends

There are all kinds of people who cross our paths each day. It is preferable to be on friendly terms with most all of them but having one hundred acquaintances is no comparison to having one true friend.

Casual acquaintances will disappear when times get tough; a true friend is there no matter what.

3. You are in love with money

Money and other material possessions is a totally unreliable friend. No matter how much money you have it is unlikely to turn an unhappy person happy. Having enough money for your needs can take the stress and worry out of life but making money your best friend is likely to make you really lonely. The people who friend you when you have something they want will disappear the second you can’t or won’t give them more.

4. You think your partner should make you happy

Happiness comes from inside. Expecting your partner to make you happy is a mistake. These days a lot of people think that their lack of happiness is their partners fault. The result is a lot of affairs, break ups and new relationships. If you leave one partner for another expecting the change to make you happy the odds are that you will very shortly be back in an unhappy relationship, this time with a new equally unhappy partner.

5. Your lover is alcohol or drugs

Lots of people develop very unhealthy relationships with drugs, alcohol, gambling and a host of other things. If your lover is a substance or a repetitive behavior like sex or shopping you are in an unhealthy relationship and this relationship is bound to make you unhappy.

6. You spend all your time with Anxiety

Some people think that being anxious is helpful. They spend most of their day worrying about things with a low probability of happening. If you are in a close intimate relationship with your anxieties and fears this connection will turn unhappy in a flash.

Consider professional help to get a trial separation from your anxiety and fears.

7. You are lonely when you are alone

Being alone should not make you lonely. Work on being your own best friend and you will not be lonely just because you are by yourself.

Chronically feeling lonely when alone sets you up to jump into a relationship, any relationship, just to avoid being alone. Most of those emergency relationships turn out to also be the very unhappy kind.

8. Your friends are toxic

If you hang out with unhappy people you become unhappy. If your friends are downers and want you to mellow down to their level you are headed for lonely street.

9. Your living in the wrong time zone

If you spend all your time and thoughts on the past, what should have been to make you happy, you will lose the present. Frankly the present is where you should be experiencing happiness.

Same problem if you spend all your time dwelling in the future. Do you time travel to some point in the future and tell yourself that if only you could get there then you will be happy. That time travel is leaving your present in the unhappy column.

10. The clock is your enemy – Procrastination – unpunctual – no time to yourself

If you are constantly fighting the clock you are living an unhappy life. Make the present your friend. Start on time end on time and do not put off things that need doing. Make sure that you are not so busy chasing happiness that you fail to have time to enjoy it when you pass it by.

11. You have not made friends with the bed

People who do not have a good sleep life do not have a happy awake life. Get lots of rest. If you have nightmares find out why and work with a professional counselor on dealing with those demons from your past.

A good health sex life is also a significant factor in being happy. Do not abuse your bed. Use it to sleep and to make love. Otherwise get up and get going.

12. You and your job can’t get along – you hate your job – spend the day avoiding work

If you have a bad relationship with work it will color the rest of your life unhappy. If you hate you job – figure out why and go about changing things. The best time to look for another job is when you have one. Look for a job that you would enjoy doing and you will look forward to going to work.

Work on improving your relationship with yourself, others in your life, your work and your feelings and you will find that as these relationships become happier you will spend more time in the happiness place and less time in the misery hangout.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/

The link between Smoking and Depression

By David Joel Miller

Cigarette Smoking and Mental Illness

Cigarette Smoking and Mental Illness
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Smoking may be the cause not the result of depression

People who smoke are far more likely to become depressed than nonsmokers. About 40% of smokers suffer from a mood disorder, largely depression, while the rate in the whole population is typically in the range of 2% to 10% in any one year.

The connections between tobacco smoking and mental health issues may be even more severe than was previously thought. The connections are not limited to depression or related mood disorders.

One recent study took another look at the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a large nationwide survey of mental health and addiction issues.  (P. A. Cavazos-Rehg, N. Breslau, D. Hatsukami, M. J. Krauss, E. L. Spitznagel, R. A. Grucza, P. Salyer, S. M. Hartz, L. J. Bierut. Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood/anxiety and alcohol use disorders. Psychological Medicine, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291713003206)

This study surveyed 35,000 people; about 4,800 of those were daily smokers. The study participants were resurveyed 3 years later. Smokers in this study appear to have significantly higher rates of mental health issues.

Half of all smokers reported having “Alcohol problems” While 24% reported some form of drug use problem.

Over the course of the three-year period between studies some people quit smoking. Among those who quit smoking the rates of mental health and substance abuse problems declined, while those who continued to smoke continued to have higher rates of mental health and substance used disorders.

This challenges the conventional wisdom that in treating serious mental health or substance abuse issues the issue of tobacco smoking can be left for a later time.

Chemical use of many kinds is known to impact mental health. Excessive alcohol use results in depression. Many practitioners have been reluctant to treat someone for depression while they are still drinking alcohol.

Recently professionals in the mental health and substance abuse field have moved to thinking that substance use issues and mental health issues so thoroughly interact that both problems need to be treated simultaneously.

The evidence continues to mount that there is a connection between tobacco use and both mental health issues and substance use disorders. It is becoming clear that ending tobacco use might have a significant impact on mental health.

Recently I have been hearing of studies in which the seriously mentally ill were taught smoking cessation and the results of their recovery from both issues were essentially the same as the general population.

If you are a smoker quitting may well improve your mood and your mental health. If you are struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder there is no reason to put off quitting smoking and there are a growing number of reasons to think that quitting will make your other problems easier to manage.

Have you seen a connection between your smoking and other life problems?

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at http://www.counselorfresno.com/recommended-books/