Putting more excitement in your life.

The excitement of life.

Excitement.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

What makes your life exciting?

Excitements can contribute a lot to the quality of your life. By excitements here we are not talking about the kind of excitement you might experience watching a close sporting event where what someone else is doing excites you. What I mean by excitement are those times in your life where what you’re doing excites you and you become fully absorbed in the activity. When what you’re doing excites you, time passes before you know it.

Excitement is not the same thing as pleasure. Though experiencing excitement can bring you a great deal of pleasure. Pleasures are consumption, whereas excitements are creation. Creating these excitements is engaging and requires an investment of your time and energy.

The exciting life grows out of a life which is based on meaning and purpose. If you find your meaning in life, find that your life has a purpose, getting up every day can be a joy.

Some psychologists describe engagement as flow.

Flow is that state in which you lose all sense of time. Someone who loves to play music will sit down to practice a piece only to realize that hours have passed. Have you ever engaged in an activity you were so into, that it seemed as if hours had passed in minutes? That’s the state of flow.

What makes a task exciting and creates flow?

Researchers have discovered specific characteristics of activities that create flow when matched with people who were into those activities. If you can design activities that take you into this state, the time you put in will always feel too short. People who regularly engage in activities that create the flow state describe their lives as full of meaning and purpose.

It requires skill and is challenging.

To routine, an activity can become dull over time. An activity that is challenging and requires you to develop ever-increasing skill can quickly put you into the flow state. This activity should not be beyond your abilities but only at the edge or limit of them. Many people rapidly reached the state of flow when playing video games and can become so engaged in them that they lose all sense of time and forget other activities.

When you concentrate you enter a flow state.

While easy tasks may be enjoyable, maintaining a state in which you are excited in a pleasant way requires that the task be challenging enough that you need to concentrate. The more you focus on this preferred task the more the rest of the world seems to disappear.

Tasks with clear goals are more enjoyable.

The more well-defined the goals the more likely you are to feel enjoyment as you accomplish them. This is one reason why video game players become so engrossed in the game. As they play the game, they are able to achieve increasingly difficult goals. Each time they reach a goal the activity there engaging in is reinforced.

Challenging activities provide immediate feedback.

While there are few people who can work for years on a project not knowing if it will be successful, most people are much more motivated when the task before them provides immediate feedback. When the task is set just a little harder in the last thing you’ve accomplished there’s an incentive to continue to learn and practice. The more immediate feedback the more likely you are to continue with that activity.

Exciting, flow state activities provide deep, effortless involvement.

What you get into the activity you get carried along. Your concentration improves as you become more and more focused on the activity. Seems an amazingly simple solution that many people who say they suffer from ADHD find no difficulty in continuing to pay attention to and engaging tasks such as video gaming or a sports activity.

Challenging experiences should include a sense of control.

When an activity feels out of your control when no matter what you do results seem to be dictated by someone else it rapidly moves from being enjoyable to being unpleasant. If you want to achieve that ultimate feeling of engagement look for opportunities to challenge yourself.

Our sense of self vanishes.

When you get really into any activity you lose yourself in what you are doing. As you move along in this exciting and enjoyable activity is stopped being self-conscious or worrying about what others think about what you’re doing. You continue the activity for the pure pleasure of accomplishment.

Time stops when you’re in a flow state.

Once you find an activity that really engages you and provides this level of excitement and passion there never seems to be enough time to engage in this activity. Hours can pass in what seems like only minutes. When you have to stop you feel like you have just barely begun.

I know I’ve interchanged some terminology here. But I’ve come to believe that happiness involves a lot more than not being depressed. I genuinely happy life reaches far beyond temporary bursts of pleasure. Engagement or flow is one of those ways that people reach genuine happiness.

Have you found something which adds excitement to your life? Is your life full of meaning and purpose? How would your life be different if you found your passion?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Happiness.

Happy faces
Happiness. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Happiness,

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”

― Audrey Hepburn

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

― Helen Keller

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. 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.

Inspiration

Happiness

Positive Psychology

How do you create the best life possible?

Contentment
Contentment Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Three steps to a flourishing life.

Mental health programs frequently stop at just treating mental illness. We’ve learned that merely treating your depression or anxiety or other mental illness does not create a happy, flourishing life. When I ask people what makes them happy, many people struggle for an answer.

It’s easy to confuse happiness with temporary bursts of pleasure. The only way that many adults know how to have fun is to use drugs, alcohol, or engage in sex or other risky behaviors. It turns out there’s a lot of ways to have a pleasant, contented life that don’t involve the so-called adult pleasures.

Over the last couple of decades, a new movement has emerged in the mental health and wellness field called positive psychology. Positive psychology tries to look beyond reducing pain and temporary bursts of pleasure to the creation of those peak experiences that are sometimes described as the good life, flourishing, or experiencing episodes of flow. Here are some steps to take you to whenever you would subjectively describe as your good, ideal life.

Decrease your negative emotions.

Some negative emotions are an essential part of living life. Anxiety can be a productive emotion when it warns you of danger. If something awful happens in your life, when someone you love dies, when you lose a job, or a relationship ends, it’s reasonable and even normal to be sad for a while. But suppose your life is overwhelmed by anxiety and depression. In that case, we diagnose those as mental illnesses, and the first part of the journey to a good life is overcoming those excesses of negative emotions. Unfortunately, treating mental illness is where most mental health treatment programs end.

Increase your positive emotions.

The more you can experience positive emotions, as the quality of your life improves. The human brain is biased. It places a premium on recognizing danger and unhappiness. It’s easy to walk right past beauty and positive experiences without ever noticing them. Learn to become a happiness expert. Stop and smell the roses. Along the way don’t forget to smell all the other flowers and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Many people can readily recall all the problems they’ve had in relationships. It’s common for couples who come to marriage counseling to have a list of their complaints about their partner. What is usually missing are any memories of the happy occasions. If you want a flourishing life, make sure you collect as many positive feelings and memories as possible.

Create a flourishing life full of zest and vitality.

The people who say that they have a good quality of life are almost uniformly full of zest and vitality. Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. Vitality generally refers to physical health. The term zest, more commonly, is applied to emotional enthusiasm. If you enjoy what you do every day, you will have a subjectively more joyous life.

People who lack zest for life drift into inactivity and can become couch potatoes. They may burn out on their work and relationships. The best way to create a life worth living is to engage in the activities that energize you rather than wear you out. When you enjoyed the work you do for a living, it won’t wear you out or pull you down. If you want an exceptionally good life, emphasize the things that energize you.

Increase your life satisfaction.

In all these ways, seek to increase your life satisfaction. You only get one life. You can live each day burdened by your cares, or life can be a grand adventure in which every day adds to your quality of life.

I’ve listed some simple takeaways from the articles I’ve read on positive psychology and having a better life. Does the life you’re living bring you joy? What activities do you engage in which give your life meaning and purpose? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Valentine’s Day Love.

Valentine’s Day love. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine’s Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine’s Day on February’s shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.”

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

“Do what you do. This Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, and every day henceforth. Just do what you do. Live out your life and your traditions on your own terms.

If it offends others, so be it. That’s their problem.”

― Chris Rose

“Valentine’s Day is the poet’s holiday.”

― Ted Kooser

“Let’s forgive someone for Valentines day, it’s a great way to show love, and forgive yourself too for the hurt you held onto.”

― Jay Woodman

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. 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.

Inspiration

The Paradox of Pleasure.

Pleasure. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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

What’s the connection between pleasure and happiness?

Wikipedia defines pleasure as “a mental experience that humans and other conscious animals find enjoyable, positive, or worthy of seeking. It can be a part of other mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria.” While pleasure is undoubtedly a part of happiness, it’s not the whole thing.

Positive psychology, a relatively new branch of mental health, tells us that being mentally healthy, having a good life is more than merely a lack of mental illness. If you have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, it needs to be treated. But the elimination of a mental illness doesn’t equate with a life of fulfillment. How do you move from not being depressed to a life full of joy, happiness, contentment, meaning, and purpose? How far along that path will pleasure take you?

When most people think of happiness, they think of pleasure.

Pleasure is unquestionably a part of having a happy life, but it’s not the only part. A genuinely happy life, a life in which people are flourishing and finding meaning and purpose, needs a lot more than just pleasure. While pleasure may take you part of the way to the good life, it doesn’t take you all the way. Let’s look at how pleasure starts you out in the right direction but can get you stuck on the thing we call the hedonic treadmill.

Sometimes pleasure leads to happiness but not always.

The brain craves pleasure. Pleasure is our nervous system’s way of rewarding us for doing things that might benefit us. In small quantities, pleasure can increase your happiness. Pleasures produce the most happiness when they are unexpected. But too much of a good thing, especially on a regular basis, can be bad for you. The human brain is biased towards novel pleasures. So, each successive dose of a particular pleasure adds smaller and smaller amounts to happiness. The first slice of chocolate cake tastes good. Eating the second chocolate cake can impair your health. Eventually, most pleasures turn on you.

Pleasure wears off quickly, and this can lead to an addiction.

In psychology, this phenomenon is called habituation. The first drink can be enjoyable, but subsequent drinks each produce less pleasure. Each subsequent drink creates less subjective pleasure. When the pleasure fades, this can lead to cravings for more. Farther down the road, people find themselves drinking, using drugs, or engaging in behavioral addictions, not for the pleasure it brings them, but to prevent the cravings that come with withdrawal.

Pleasure must be taken in slowly.

Trying to maximize your happiness by consuming pleasure too quickly doesn’t work. You can’t see much of the scenery when you’re driving 100 miles an hour. Taking in pleasure slowly is a technique sometimes called savoring. In our fast-paced society, people are prone to suck in the pleasure as rapidly as possible and then move on to the next pleasurable event. This frantic search for pleasure results in absorbing very little of the pleasure from the things you do.

You can’t enjoy the taste of food when you swallow it whole.

The human brain seems to be biased to remember negative things. The threat circuits in our brain stem warn us of danger. Positive experiences, on the other hand, require effort to recognize. Modern life is moving at a pace that can be overwhelming. If you want more happiness in your life, you need to become a happiness expert. When positive events happen, we need to slow down and savor them. In this era of fast food and instant gratification savoring life’s positive experiences is becoming a lost art.

Throughout this year want to bring you some additional information about the elements of a good life and how to create a life full of joy, meaning, and purpose. If you have found ways to create a life that is flourishing, please share them by leaving a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

What does your happy place look like?

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

Can you picture the time you were happy?

Early in life, even before we have the vocabulary to store memories in our brain as stories, those memories are stored as pictures. When you think back over your life, the most positive memories often evoke images.

The exercise of imagining your happy place can be extremely helpful in managing overwhelming emotions. Once you learn to mentally go to your happy place, you can go there whenever you choose. When I think of my happy place, a picture of a particular place and time readily forms in my mind and has a calming effect.

When I try to do this “happy place” exercise with some of my clients, they seem to have difficulty imagining I happy place. If you are high in anxiety or depression, memories of happy times and places may be hard to picture. I thought I’d offer you a few images that might help take you to your happy place.

Which of these pictures most says this is my happy place to you?

The Beach
The Mountains.
Puppies.

A Theme Park
Children Playing
Flowers.

The next time you feel stressed, take a deep breath and remember your happy place. Is there another place that increases your happiness when you think about it? Please share your happy place with others by leaving a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Has happiness Eluded you?

Happy faces
Happiness. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Happiness has three essential parts.

The statistics tell us that depression is at an all-time high. Recent events have harmed almost everyone’s life. But even when times are good, depression is a lot more common than authentic happiness. With everyone looking for happiness, why is it so difficult to find?

If you want more happiness in your life, become a happiness expert.

The human brain seems to be biased toward remembering negative, painful experiences. Remembering the bad and forgetting the good may have given humans an evolutionary advantage. Say your distant ancestors were walking through the jungle and then found some red berries on a bush. Before grocery stores and refrigeration, humans were always hungry, so your distant ancestor ate those berries. If they got sick and died from those berries – well, you wouldn’t be here, now would you? But if they ate those berries, got sick, and then recovered, they would have remembered those berries forever and avoided eating them again.

Your brain is no different than those ancestor’s brains. Something bad happens to you, and your brain doesn’t want you to ever forget that. But what about the opposite result? If that distant ancestor had eaten the red berries and enjoyed them, they may not have remembered what they look like. Just because they liked the berries once doesn’t mean they would ever encounter them again. So why use up space in memory remembering things that might not ever happen again?

It’s almost as if negative, painful experiences cut a groove into our brains, so we hold onto them forever. At the same time, happy experiences can easily slide right off your brain and disappear.

If something good happens, you need to pay attention to that happiness. If your child does something cute, or you walk by a beautiful flower, you need to stare at that positive event for perhaps as much as thirty seconds to give that information time to soak into your brain and be fully absorbed.

If you want more happiness in your life, you need to study it and become an expert on it. Unfortunately, most of us spend most of our lives studying pain and misery rather than joy and happiness. As you’re studying happiness, it’s important to realize that most experts believe there are three critical parts to having an authentically happy or, as some positive psychologists call it, a life that is flourishing and full of subjective well-being. What are the three parts to this authentically happy, flourishing life?

Pleasure is necessary, but not enough to ensure happiness.

Pleasure is essential to having a good life. Our bodies and nervous systems are designed to experience pleasure when we do things that benefit us. If you’re hungry, eating brings you pleasure. Physical affection is also a great source of pleasure. The pleasure system is designed to get humans to do more things that benefit them.

Unfortunately, pleasure by itself will not result in genuine happiness. When you engage in something pleasurable, you become satiated. Twice as much food does not make you twice as happy. To maintain the same level of happiness, humans need ever-increasing amounts of pleasure. One piece of chocolate cake is good tasting. Eating a second chocolate cake may not even be enjoyable. Eventually, you reach a point where more of a pleasurable experience doesn’t add to your happiness. So, what else is necessary for maintaining authentic happiness?

Engagement is essential for maximum happiness.

Engagement, sometimes referred to as flow, is also an essential ingredient for happiness. Engagement involves developing and using the skill of curiosity. It’s also intimately connected with the character strengths. It was initially called vitality but has been renamed zest in the more recent positive psychology research.

Vitality seems to imply both physical and emotional energy or drive. This makes sense because physical vitality and emotional zest are intimately connected. People who are in poor physical health have difficulty maintaining their zest for living. Conversely, people who lack engagement in life are at increased risk of developing many physical ailments.

Vitality or zest goes by many other names, including passion, enthusiasm, flow, or my favorite “being on the jazz.” Vitality is so connected to the use and perfection of other personality character strengths and virtues that I plan to write some posts specifically on this ingredient, which is missing from so many people’s authentically happy life.

Meaning and purpose are necessary for authentic happiness.

Regardless of how much pleasure you have for something or how enthusiastically you pursue it if when you reach your goal, it has no meaning it won’t take you to the place most of us call happiness. Positive psychology describes this state as a life that is “flourishing.” If you’d like a life that goes beyond temporary pleasure, then discovering your life’s meaning and purpose is an essential activity.

Many of the people who arrive at the counselor’s office, experiencing depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, say they are there to “find themselves.” In the process of living life, the pain has often overwhelmed the positive. Frequently, people tried to drown their sorrows and alcohol. They may have experimented with drugs, sex, or gambling, only to find that the temporary spikes in dopamine provided by pleasure didn’t lead to authentic happiness or a life that was flourishing.

So how should you go about finding yourself? Where should you look for that meaning and purpose? Many people find the answers to those questions by doing their own personal work with the counselor. In upcoming blog posts, I want to give you some hints about ways to find yourself and discover your meaning and purpose.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Happiness.

Happy faces
Happiness. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Happiness.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

― Abraham Lincoln

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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. 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.

Inspiration

Happiness

Positive Psychology

What do you need?

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

What you need?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s important to know what you genuinely need.

Many people find it challenging to get clear about what they actually need. Making sure that your needs are being met is part of having a happy, contented life. Needs can come in all sizes, from the mandatory life-threatening needs for food and shelter to the transient ones like tickets to Friday’s concert. One way to improve your mental health is to get clear on what you need and find ways to prioritize those needs.

Learn the difference between wants and needs.

Have you ever thought, “I need a new car?” If the car you have isn’t running and you depend on it for getting to and from work and grocery shopping, then yes, you may genuinely need a new car. But be careful here. What you may need is to get the vehicle you have fixed.

On the other hand, if you’re telling yourself that you need a new car because yours is a whole year old and your neighbor just got a brand-new luxury model, the truth is that it is a want, not a need. Learning the difference between what you need and what you want can take a lot of stress off your life, particularly in the financial area.

Your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations help you determine your needs.

In deciding what you truly need, you must deal with three separate sources of information. It’s tempting to believe that whatever you think – that must be true. But the more you examine and test your thoughts, the more you may come to understand that just because you think it doesn’t make it true. It’s useful to continually re-examine your thoughts to determine if they are logical and if there’s evidence for that thought. A lot of people believe things simply because they would like them to be true.

Feelings can be a useful source of information. It’s dangerous to dismiss your feelings as unimportant. Nerve cells don’t exist solely in the brain. There are scattered throughout the body. They collect information about how the body is functioning, and they also send signals to the muscles and body parts, telling them to prepare for action.

If you’ve ever thought that someone is a pain in the neck, reach up and feel your neck muscles. Chances are they are tight. Does someone make you sick to your stomach? This is your nervous system telling you to beware of that person. Learn to use the information your feelings are giving you but don’t let them take over running your life. Sometimes your feelings are not helpful. Just because something scares you doesn’t mean it is dangerous.

Please don’t ignore your physical body. It is a source of information about what you really need. You will function better, both physically and emotionally, if you take good care of your body. Your body has many ways to tell you that you are hungry and need to eat. Just be sure you’re eating because the body needs fuel, not because you’re using food as a drug and becoming an emotional eater. Many people confuse thirst with hunger or even emotions. Drinking enough water to hydrate your body is a need. Listen to your body when it tells you that you need to sleep. Getting adequate rest will help you think more clearly and function more efficiently.

Allocate time for determining your needs.

Life can be overwhelming at times. We run from one problem to another, all the while hours, days, months, and years are slipping away. Periodically we need to take a break and examine the life we are living. Identifying what you need and don’t need in your life is an essential part of that periodic review. Are you doing a lot of things that are not benefiting your life?

Get clear on your values and whether your actions are helping you achieve goals consistent with those values. If you know what you need and want out of life, this can guide the way you will spend your time, your money, and your effort.

Do a daily review of your progress toward meeting your needs.

If your life hasn’t been meeting your needs, getting clear on those needs is only the first step. Next, each day you should be taking some action, however small, that is leading you in the direction of a fulfilled life. Doing a daily review just before going to bed can help you see whether your efforts are producing the results you want. After doing your daily review, make sure to forgive yourself for any shortcomings and decide that you’ll begin your efforts again tomorrow.

Ask yourself what you are grateful for.

If you only look at the things that are lacking in your life, you will get a very distorted picture. Painful and unpleasant things have a way of taking over our minds. Make sure you spend time paying attention to the positive things that happen. Ask yourself repeatedly, what are you grateful for? If you’re having trouble making up that list, talk with your support system or a professional. Often, we don’t notice the things we’re grateful for until we lose them. Practicing gratitude has positive mental health benefits that will help you through the tough times.

Ask yourself, what am I doing that I wish I could stop doing?

Have you ever said you needed to find more time to do things? The idea that you can find time is an illusion. Each week we have precisely one hundred and sixty-eight hours. There’s no way you’re going to find any more. The way you free up more time for the things that matter is to stop spending some of those hours on things that are not benefiting you. If you find it difficult to get your needs met, especially your self-care needs, a first step is eliminating all the things you’re doing that are not benefiting you.

Make friends with your feelings.

Learn to recognize when you are feeling something and what it is that you’re feeling. Learn your feeling’s names and remember that emotions come in intensities. Think of feelings as cues for action. You don’t have to let them control you, but you should learn to listen to what they’re telling you.

Pay attention to the things you’re telling yourself.

Self-talk is powerful. If you tell yourself negative statements, you undermine your efforts. Positive self-talk can be a powerful motivator. If you’re telling yourself that you can’t, then you won’t be able to. People who tell themselves that they can achieve more. When using self-talk, it is especially important not to lie to yourself. If your brain thinks you are lying, it will create failure.

Make self-assessment a regular habit.

You can’t figure out where to go unless you know where you’re at. At regular intervals, do a self-assessment. How have you been feeling, and what thoughts have been occupying your mind? How are you spending your time? You need to be patient with yourself. Change frequently happens gradually. But if you’re not moving in the right direction, you either need to change what you’re doing or change your goal.

Is the life you’re living meeting your needs? If not, what action will you take to get those needs met? If something in this post started you thinking, please leave a comment below or feel free to use the contact me form.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Handling disappointment.

Disappointment.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Do you frequently feel disappointed?

Disappointments are a common occurrence in life. Some people experience disappointments more often than others. Knowing that disappointment is common doesn’t make disappointments any easier to handle. It’s tempting to get stuck in negative thinking as a result of a seemingly insurmountable disappointment. Learning to overcome life’s setbacks and see things more positively will improve your resilience and make your life more positive.

Frequent disappointments, as well as huge disappointments, can be challenging to handle. If you struggle with disappointments, this can lead to poor mental health, and ultimately to depression. Here are some things you need to know about disappointments and how to manage their effects.

Being disappointed is a result of your expectations.

To reduce the impact of disappointment, you need to learn to manage your expectations. High expectations, particularly those that are coupled with absolute statements, are hard to manage. Avoid telling yourself that things “must be” or that they “should happen or should not happen” in a certain way. Absolute expectations set you up for disappointment. Learn to view things as preferences. Tell yourself that you would prefer to have a specific outcome but don’t get tricked into believing that if things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to, your life is a failure.

Don’t let your desires ruin your successes.

Some people don’t feel comfortable with their accomplishments. They tell themselves they should have done something better, done it faster, or that what they accomplished was no big deal. Minimizing your successes can result in feelings of disappointment, even when you have achieved your goals.

If you have built up a goal in your mind to excessive proportions, you may be disappointed. Believing that if you only had a particular job, got into a relationship, or out of one, then you would be happy, are sure paths to disappointment. If you’re not happy during the journey, you’re likely to be disappointed when you reach your destination.

Accept that you feel the way you feel.

Give yourself some time to get over that loss. By that, I don’t mean to wallow in your disappointment and get stuck there. Just recognize that the larger the disappointment, the longer it may take to get over it. Accept that sometimes in this life you will feel bad, and that’s okay. Don’t deny your feelings but don’t get stuck there either.

Surround yourself with positive people.

If you want to be a winner, you need to emulate winners. Beware the adage that misery likes company—people who are miserable, like the company of other equally miserable people. Avoid sharing your disappointments with people who tell you how awful it is. Also, beware of those people who say to ignore your feelings. Neither of these is a path forward. The more time you spend with positive people who are moving forward in life, the more likely you are to move past your disappointment.

Learn to roll with it. Pick a new goal.

One key to overcoming disappointment is to avoid hopelessness, but instead to cultivate your hope. Two things lead to feeling hopeful. One is to believe that if you try again, you can be successful. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one disappointment means you will forever be disappointed. People who are successful in life often experience a lot of disappointments. If you try enough things, some of them are bound to work out.

The second large factor in nurturing your hope is the ability to create new plans for reaching your goal. If what you tried didn’t take you where you want to go, create a new plan, pick a new route, begin your journey anew.

Become a happiness expert and look for the positive.

Avoid selectively focusing on only your disappointments. This will make you an unhappiness expert. The more you look at something, the more it takes over your field of vision. Make sure that you continue to look for the positive things that are happening in your life. Don’t let happiness, contentment, or joy go by unnoticed. The more time you spend paying attention to life’s disappointments, the more disappointed you will become.

Cut yourself some slack; sometimes, life is hard.

Even the greats strike out sometimes. Avoid having unrealistic expectations. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be better than everyone else to be okay. Life can be difficult. Some people experience more difficulties than others. To create the life you want, you must keep moving forward. Avoid the temptation to lie down and give up. Remind yourself that even highly successful people strike out sometimes.

Avoid handicapping yourself and self-sabotaging.

Some people get into the habit of making excuses for why they can’t accomplish something even before trying it. This behavior can be the result of the way you were brought up and early life experiences. You don’t avoid disappointment by telling yourself that there’s no point in trying. The biggest regrets most people have when they reached the end of their lives are not for the mistakes they’ve made, but for the things that their fear of failure kept them from trying.

Don’t take everything personally.

If you don’t get the job, you applied for, avoid believing that you are inadequate and will never get a job. Some people experience a relationship breakup and conclude that no one will ever love them. If you experience a disappointment in employment, relationships, or other life activities, hold onto your hope. Failing at one thing does not make you a failure. You may have to reevaluate your goals or learn new life skills. Even the most successful people experience some disappointments. Learn to view life’s disappointing events as another challenge you can overcome.

Have you experienced disappointments? How would you manage to overcome them? You can leave a comment below or contact me using the contact form.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel