Memorial Day.

Post by David Joel Miller.


Memorial Day.
Photo courtesy of

Memorial Day.

“As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

― Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Letters

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

― Abraham Lincoln

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”

― Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works – Volume XII

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.


Embracing Life Changes and Thriving

Embracing Life Changes and Thriving

Image via Pexels

Embracing Life Changes and Thriving

Change can be tough. It often leaves us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or uncertain about the future. But it doesn’t have to be this way! With a few simple steps, you can embrace major life changes and thrive. Let’s take a look at how you can make the most of your new situation, shared below by counselorssoapbox.

Accept Change as It Comes Along

The first step in embracing major life changes is to accept that they are part of life. Change is inevitable, so it’s important to accept it without resistance. Try to keep an open mind and focus on the possibilities that come with change instead of becoming overwhelmed by the unknown. Don’t let yourself become stuck in a cycle of negative thought patterns; instead, try to focus on the potential that comes with change.

Practice Self-Care

It’s important to practice self-care when facing big life changes. Take time for yourself each day and do something calming like yoga or meditation. Make sure you get plenty of rest and stay hydrated throughout the day. Eating healthy meals and exercising regularly will also help you stay strong during times of upheaval. These small acts of self-care can make all the difference in helping you stay positive throughout your transition period.

Embrace the Challenge of Upheaval

One great way to embrace major life changes is to use them as an opportunity for growth and development — both personally and professionally. Look at this upheaval as a chance to challenge yourself in new ways, which could ultimately lead to success down the line! Consider taking online courses or attending workshops related to your field or area of interest so that you can learn new skills while honing existing ones at the same time. This will not only boost your resume but also give you valuable experience that could open up more career opportunities later on down the road.

Your coursework may have many documents that it distributes, be they notes or readings. Keeping track of all those PDFs can be tricky, however you can try this tool to combine PDFs as needed. By having all your notes in one file, you can quickly reference material without having to jump between windows.

Changing The Career Trajectory

In this ever-evolving world, it has become increasingly important to be able to adapt to life changes and get creative when thinking about career trajectories. Embracing this mindset of change is key to growth and progression. It can be a challenge, but with the right attitude, it can also be a catalyst for success. Utilizing this period as an opportunity to reevaluate and reimagine your career trajectory can open up all sorts of exciting possibilities and paths you may never have considered before. After all, innovation starts with having the courage to step outside of your comfort zone.

Build a Portfolio and Design a Top-Notch Resume

Now is also a great time to build up your portfolio or design a top-notch resume if you don’t already have one prepared. A portfolio will showcase your skillset, while an impressive resume can help attract potential employers or clients who may be interested in what you have to offer them professionally—and could even lead to some extra income! You never know where these investments now might take you later on down the line—so why not give it a shot?

Consider Starting a Business

Finally, consider starting a business as an LLC if possible—and if it fits with your unique goals and ambitions. Starting a business can be a great way to take charge and take action on your vision in life. Before signing up, make sure you do your research and read any available LLC reviews. This way you’ll know exactly what benefits and downsides come with a business before committing. Weighing all of the pros and cons will leave you feeling confident knowing that the decision to start an LLC was made consciously and thoughtfully. Embrace this new opportunity today – there’s never been a better time to get innovative.

By accepting change as it comes along, practicing self-care, embracing challenges head-on, building up portfolios/resumes, and considering starting a business (if feasible), anyone can make major life changes work for them—and even thrive along the way. So take heart knowing that with these tips by your side—you too can turn any upheaval into success stories full of possibility.

This post was contributed by Jennifer Scott

Acting Presidential – Presidents’ Day Inspiration.

Acting Presidential.

Post by David Joel Miller.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.
Photo courtesy of

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

― Abraham Lincoln, Great Speeches / Abraham Lincoln: with Historical Notes by John Grafton

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather

it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

― John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy 1917-63: Chronology-documents-bibliographical aids

“America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.”

― Barack Obama

“I don’t want some mom, whose son may have recently died, to see the commander in chief playing golf.”

― George W. Bush

“the government both in the executive and the legislative branches must carry out in good faith the platforms upon which the party was entrusted with power. But the government is that of the whole people; the party is the instrument through which policies are determined and men chosen to bring them into being. The animosities of elections should have no place in our Government, for government must concern itself alone with the common weal.”

― George Washington, The Complete Book of Presidential Inaugural Speeches: from George Washington to Barack Obama

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

To-do lists cause anxiety and depression

Picture of a to-do list on a smartphone

Has your to-do list become your enemy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

To-do lists cause anxiety and depression

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Counselor.

Is your to-do list getting you down?

I’ve been struggling with my to-do list for a long time. I probably should say to-do lists, plural. I do a lot of different things in a day. I spend my day teaching classes, doing supervision, and of course, as a licensed mental health professional, I see a lot of clients. To-do lists have become a big problem for me and almost everyone I know. I think I may have found a solution for this problem.

Rattling around in my brain all day are those ideas for creative things I would like to do. There’s a blog post, a YouTube video, and that novel I’m working on. There are also all those topics that pop into my head that I need to research because no matter how long you have been working with clients, someone will present with a new problem that you wish you knew more about.

Trying to remember six things I want to do when I’m done with this session fills my head up so much I can’t concentrate. As a result, I have learned to use a little pad that sits next to me on my desk as a sort of external hard drive.

Every time an idea pops into my head, I quickly write it on the pad, which means I don’t have to remember it. Then, when the list gets full, I tear off the sheet and toss it onto a pile on my desk. That pile has become the home of my to-do lists. Periodically I go through those notes and try to create one or two consolidated to-do lists. The sheer number of things waiting on those pages to be done used to be overwhelming.

The to-do list phobia syndrome.

My pile of to-do lists became so large that I started placing a book on top of them just so I didn’t have to look at them. I’ve learned from the work I’m doing with both counseling and coaching clients that I’m not the only one who struggles with massive to-do lists. Many of my clients tell me that the length of their to-do list is making them anxious, and at the end of the day, when they look at the items they have been able to complete and see how many remain, they become overwhelmed and depressed.

Does the sheer length of your to-do list make you feel like a failure? I do know, of course, that the reality is that many of those things on my to-do list don’t absolutely have to be done. I need to show up for my counseling appointments and my classes. I need to turn in my timesheets and do my billing if I want to get paid. But all those other things that I feel like I “must” or “should” be doing were making me anxious.

Before long, I think we will have to add a diagnosis for a new phenomenon I’m calling “to-do list phobia.”

Do you delete emails with the word “do” in the subject line?

Have you reached the point where as soon as you see the phrase in the subject line containing the word “do,” that email goes straight to the deleted email file? I had begun ignoring any communication which began with “I need you to do something for me” or “please do this as soon as possible.”

In fact, I was beginning to toss to-do lists of my own making directly into the recycle bin in the hopes that having written down the desire to do this at some point in the future would be enough to keep that thought from returning to my brain.

If you’ve reached the point where just looking at your to-do list, knowing that you have one, and seeing how little you have gotten done on it in the course of the day is leading to anxiety or depression, you have probably contracted a case of “to-do phobia syndrome.” By the way, that’s not an official diagnosis. Still, I see enough people obsessed with productivity and terrified by the undone things on their to-do lists that I think it’s helpful to look at the results of too many things on a to-do list as a productivity impairing syndrome.

How to make your to-do list your friend.

I have found one thing that seems to change my to-do lists from adversaries punishing me for my shortcomings into welcoming friends who encourage me to enjoy the things I do.

One reason I think to-do lists become the enemy for many people rather than helpful friends is that they view those lists as things they HAVE to do. That’s the way I had been looking at it. I get to my desk each morning and would find the list with ten or more things I HAD to do today. At the end of the day, looking back at the things I scratched off, I had finished maybe three out of the ten items. Thirty percent of the items completed feel more like a failure than a success.

Start making lists of things you WANT to do.

I stopped thinking about my to-do list as things I should do or must do and started looking at them as things I WANTED to do. Accomplishing three things that I wanted to do today feels pretty good. I know I won’t live forever. However, part of my life philosophy is that I try to keep moving forward rapidly enough to stay ahead of the Grim Reaper. It will never be possible for me to do all the things I want to do in this lifetime, but I’ve sure been able to do a lot of them.

What would it look like for you if you stopped beating yourself up with things you had to do and started looking forward to things that you wanted to do? If the things on your to-do list aren’t things you really want to do, maybe it’s time to re-examine the direction your life is going.

Does David Joel Miller see clients for counseling and coaching?

Yes, I do. I can see private pay clients if they live in California, where I am licensed. If you’re interested in information about that, please email me or use the contact me form.

Staying in touch with David Joel Miller.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For more information about my writing journey, my books, and other creative activities, please subscribe to my blog at

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available on Amazon now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

For information about my work in mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life, please check out

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Finding yourself – the search for you

Searching for yourself.
Photo courtesy of

Finding yourself – the search for you

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Who are you?

Trying to find yourself is a challenging task. I remember back in the 1960s when a large portion of the student body at the local college and colleges everywhere were psychology and/or sociology majors. In retrospect, I think that most people were either trying to figure out who they were or they were trying to fix what was wrong with them.

In these uncertain times, with the world changing yet again, it’s never been more important to get a clear picture of who you are and what really matters in life. Let’s look at some of the challenges you face when trying to find yourself.

One personality test won’t define you.

It’s tempting to try to divide people up based on one or more theories of personality. We used to try to define people by specific personality characteristics. For example, you could take a test and find out if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Increasingly we find the answer to who you are is much more complex than one or even a dozen personality tests.

The characteristics we use to describe personality are far more likely to be on a continuum rather than discrete categories. People are extroverted in certain situations but behave more like introverts in others. You may be anywhere along the continuum of introversion – extroversion, or you might be better described as an ambivert, someone who sometimes likes to be around others and other times needs to be by yourself.

Who you are will change as you grow.

Long-term research has also shown us that personality types are not fixed. Basic personality characteristics change slowly across the lifetime. One research article I read suggested that changing a personality characteristic takes about five years of intensive work. On the other hand, reading a book such as Learned Optimism and following the principles can change your level of optimism in a very short time.

The basis of cognitive behavioral therapy is that changing your thinking results in a change in feelings which will alter how you behave. Those connections also work in reverse. Changing your behavior, say you start exercising more frequently, will begin to change your feelings, and those new feelings we’ll begin to alter your thinking.

Whether you prefer the Big five personality characteristics, Myers Briggs categories, Enneagrams, Character strengths and virtues, or attachment theory, there’s much more to defining yourself than selecting a label from a theory.

You can’t define yourself by your occupation.

There was a time when almost everyone could answer that they were a farmer. Some families, for generations, would define themselves as soldiers. Today our occupations are much more diverse, but still, if you ask most men, they would define themselves by their occupation. We have subdivided the occupation of merchant into many categories. Is anyone hoping to become a redsmith or a cordwainer?

Women used to routinely describe themselves by their relationships. They were either a wife or a mother or both. Over the last 100 years, more or less, the options for what women could do has expanded. With more choices than ever before, it has become difficult for many women to define who they are.

In your life, you will fill multiple roles.

Who you are will be both defined and shaped by the roles you fill. In various settings, you will perform the tasks of these various roles. You will spend a certain amount of your life as a child, an adolescent, an adult, and eventually a senior citizen. The role of senior citizens is changing also. In your lifetime, you are likely to also be a student and possibly a teacher. Most of us become relationship partners, and many people will fill the role of parents.

Roles such as parents are becoming increasingly nuanced and harder to define. Parenting goes beyond being a mother or father. Some people also become stepparents or spend part of their lives in a blended family.

During various times in your life, you may be called upon to be an employee, a supervisor, a manager, or a business owner. While none of these roles is the whole of who you are, filling those roles can shape or define your understanding of yourself.

You’re not your problems or disorders.

The more we learn about neurodiversity, the more we realize that everyone has potential that can be developed and that we all have challenges to overcome. We should think of people as more than the sum of their challenges.

It’s better to think of people as someone with bipolar disorder or who has depression or experiences anxiety rather than the bipolar or depressive or whatever other label might be applied based on your challenges or disabilities.

How do you define yourself?

Spend some time learning about who you are. While you’re going to be you for your entire life, that person has the potential to change and grow.

Staying in touch with David Joel Miller.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For more information about my writing journey, my books, and other creative activities, please subscribe to my blog at

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available on Amazon now! And more are on the way.

For more about my books, please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

For information about my work in mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life, please check out

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel


Photo courtesy of


Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“I steeled myself to focus only on the present yet remain alert to what might come next.”

― Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.”

― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you. Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. I’ve also included some words related to strengths and values since the line between what we think and what we feel may vary from person to person. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings, strengths, and values.

Emotions and Feelings.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Inspirational    Post  From David Joel Miller.

MLJ Day 2015

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you. Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

A New Year is Dawning.

Inspiration for a new year     Post By David Joel Miller.

The New Year

New Year Dawning.

Happy New Year
Photo courtesy of

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

― Oprah Winfrey

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Did Maslow get it wrong, or did we?


Maslow’s pyramid?
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Did Maslow get it wrong, or did we?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Counselor.

Does Maslow’s hierarchy of needs make sense today?

If you took a class in beginning psychology, you probably were taught about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s been a long time since I took that class, and I’m not sure if I remember what we were taught accurately, but I am starting to question some of the basic principles as I remember them. Some of the books I’ve been reading recently have made me think maybe that way of looking at things isn’t the final authority.

I first encountered these ideas back in the 1960s. When I went to college, I wasn’t sure what a major was, let alone what I should major in. My experiences as a professor at the local community college since 2008 have led me to believe that fuzzy majors continue to be a problem today.

I took some psychology and some sociology classes in my first year at the community college. Seems like everybody was a psychology major at some point in that decade. Psychology seemed to offer so much promise for helping you decide what the correct choices to make were. Unfortunately, classical psychology was primarily based on research on rats and female college sophomores. That research didn’t actually help most people figure out how to solve their problems. Or how to avoid mental illnesses that counselors and therapists are trained to treat.

Remember that Maslow wrote about a hierarchy of needs during World War II and directly after. His ideas and how psychology professors interpreted them were heavily influenced by their life experiences. Many of our teachers in school in the 1960s had lived through the Great Depression and then World War II. Some of my teachers can home from Europe or Asia and then went to school on the G.I. Bill. Those who taught us had to live through some pretty grim times.

We were taught that physiological needs come first.

Considering what Maslow and those who taught us his hierarchy of needs had lived through, the idea that meeting their physiological needs should come first and that people wouldn’t pay attention to those other “higher” needs would come later makes sense. There may be some reasons to question this notion.

Now I’m not saying that things are any less challenging today, at least for some people. I just think that the challenges the majority of Americans face are different. People who had to live with the possibility of imminent death or who went without food, shelter, or basic necessities of life were affected both physically and mentally by those struggles.

Many parents and grandparents, possibly great-grandparents of people reading this blog, concluded that what mattered in life was a secure job with a good enough paycheck that you would always have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a house to live in. If meeting your physiological and safety needs is what matters, why are there so many people who are depressed, anxious, and about to give up hope?

Is there a shortage of food, water, and shelter today?

Despite the phenomenal creation of wealth since World War II and our emphasis on having the latest technology at our fingertips, the truth is that there are still a lot of people in American society who worry about where their next meal will come from and whether their children will receive adequate healthcare. Our welfare programs and government subsidies provide some relief from the harsh realities, but we still have our homeless, our underfed, and those who can’t get reliable medical care.

From that perspective, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs makes some sense.

The way I understand his theory is that humans have certain basic needs. We need air to breathe, preferably healthy, unpolluted air. The human body needs food and water, but given the chance, most humans consume unhealthy food and water. The hierarchy of needs tells us that we need sleep, but more than one productivity guru tells us we can sleep less and produce more as if more were beneficial.

So how come highly paid tech people have so much anxiety and depression?

Meeting your physiological and safety needs does not result in happy people. Many people with a lot of material possessions are saying that life is meaningless and the money they are earning isn’t meeting their emotional needs.

Without meaning, purpose, and a sense of mastery, the rest doesn’t matter.

What I hear repeatedly from clients is if they are depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges rarely come from a lack of food, water, or even adequate housing. Instead, what’s missing and so many people’s lives is a sense that their life has meaning.

Victor Frankel described this in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. His experience in the concentration camp convinced him that having meaning and purpose in your life was far more important than food, clothing, or other physical necessities. People who had a sense of purpose survived camps despite horrific conditions.

Today in a land that’s richer than probably any in the history of the world, we still have a lot of people who can’t find anything that gives their life meaning and purpose. When you’re overweight, more food won’t help. It’s very easy to be lonely in a house with dozens of bedrooms.

How come people are willing to trade sleep for video game time?

The primary benefit derived from playing video games is a sense of mastery. As we move farther and farther into an economy where work is disconnected from physical objects is harder to experience mastery. The inherent thing that video games can give people is a chance to master an environment, albeit an artificial one. In the videogame, every time you achieve mastery, you level up and have new challenges to face.

Maybe it’s not the physiological and safety needs that are the foundation of the human hierarchy of needs. People short of food and safety can find abstract principles they’re willing to fight and die for. People with lots of physical possessions may think of suicide and self-harm because they lack meaning, purpose, and a sense of mastery.

I’ve come to think that those things we learned as being necessary only after the baser needs were met are, in fact, the foundation needs that we all are looking for.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was not a pyramid.

Just as a by the way. When we say Maslow, most people think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a pyramid. I came across an article about Maslow’s pyramid, which tells us that Maslow didn’t write about his hierarchy of needs as a pyramid. Nowhere that we have been able to find in his writing does that pyramid diagram appear. Where that came from, we can’t be sure.

But I think teaching Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as if it were a pyramid makes those abstract principles seem far less important and places too much emphasis on the needs of the body rather than the emotional needs of the person.

Does David Joel Miller see clients for counseling and coaching?

Yes, I do. I can see private pay clients if they live in California, where I am licensed. If you’re interested in information about that, please email me or use the contact me form.

Staying in touch with David Joel Miller.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For more information about my writing journey, my books, and other creative activities, please subscribe to my blog at

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available on Amazon now! And more are on the way.

For these and my upcoming books, please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

For information about my work in mental health, substance abuse, and having a happy life, please check out

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel