Has happiness alluded 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

Ways to improve your mood in minutes.

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

Unhappy emoticon

Unhappy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes a low mood is a mental illness; sometimes it’s not.

Everyone has days when they’re feeling down. When that down feeling goes on too long, and it interferes with your life, it becomes a thing we know as clinical depression. Treatment for depression can involve three separate approaches, medication, counseling, and changes in thinking and behavior. For that occasional blue moon, medication is not recommended. Using chemicals to change the way you feel can result in a substance use disorder.

Talking to people whether you’re in counseling or have a support system is useful even when your down mood hasn’t reached a diagnosable mental illness. People who incorporate talking and active behavior reduce the risks of developing depression, and these tools can be used to prevent relapse if you have been treated for depression.

Being more active will improve your mood.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous for you to receive benefits from it. Walking as little as 20 minutes a day can improve your outlook on life. More important than the intensity is the frequency. You can’t sit on the couch every day and then expect to make up for it by exercising all day on Saturday.

Getting into motion has lots of benefits. Many people report that they don’t feel like doing anything, but once they start moving, that sluggish feeling disappears.

Going outdoors makes you feel better.

Brighter light helps your mood, so does fresh air, and being in nature. If you’ve ever been to the mountains or the lake you probably felt better. Researchers believe that there are healing benefits for humans being around nature. The recommended dose of mother nature is at least two hours a week.

Connect with positive people to improve your mood.

Positive outlooks on life are contagious. Humans are social animals, and they tend to copy the people they spend the most time around. Pick your friends wisely. If you hang out with gloomy people, the joy leaves your life.

We all need a support system. It’s terrific if you have one person in your life you’re close with. But a support system needs to be more than one person. Having good Friends keeps you connected and prevents Loneliness.

Improve your self-care.

Get plenty of sleep on a regular basis even if you have to cut some things out of your life to do it. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. When you’re tired, hungry, or thirsty, your mood suffers, and you become irritable.

Scratch something hard off your to-do list.

When you have difficult tasks on your to-do list, don’t procrastinate. The longer that hard-to-do project sits on your to-do list, the more anxious or depressed you’re likely to become. Tackle that challenging project first, and as you see progress, towards your goal, you can take pride in your accomplishments.

Taking back your environment will make you feel better.

Straighten the things around you. Do a quick cleaning up project. Eliminate clutter. A little bit of rearranging can make you a lot more comfortable in your surroundings.

Do something for someone else.

Doing for others is a proven way to elevate your mood. Any time you spend doing for others is time you’re not thinking about your challenges.

Learn something new to build a sense of accomplishment.

The process of learning something can elevate your mood. Learn a new skill. Study something you’ve always wanted to know about.

Read a book to spark your imagination.

Lots of people watch TV or online videos. But there’s something about “reading” a book that has a lasting impact on people. Whether you read a physical paper book, read an electronic version, or listen to an audiobook, you will engage your imagination. Videos show you everything. Books suggest things, leaving you to fill in the details. Reading more can increase your creativity and make you feel better.

Acting as if you are happy makes you happier.

One way to break out of a down mood is to smile more. People who smile begin to feel happy. People who laugh more are more fun to be around.

Being happy makes you a better person.

Being happy is not selfish. It makes you an easier person to be around. Happy people are easier to get along with, more productive, and more likable.

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

Manic relaxation.

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

Manic relaxation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Does your weekend disappear in a blur?

For many people, the workweek, whatever days and hours that is for you, drags by slowly. But your weekend disappears in seconds. Frantic weekends can often leave you exhausted when it’s time to return to work. There are always chores to do, taking care of where you live, and the necessities of life. There’s also trying to squeeze in as much fun and relaxation as possible.

Can you relax at high speed?

With your life going by at a frantic pace how do you maximize your relaxation? Do you feel like you’re desperately trying to squeeze in time for relaxation and pleasure and the time is gone before it even begins? What you may be doing is manic relaxation, rushing from activity to activity trying to enjoy all the pleasure you can before your time off is gone.

Some people live their lives like racecars. You sit at the starting line with your engine all revved up ready to race all weekend at top speed trying to win the relaxation derby. The result of the rapid pursuit of pleasure may take you nowhere.

Does your manic relaxation lead to Monday blues?

Trying to cram too much fun and enjoyment into your weekend may leave you neither happy nor rested. Relaxation requires taking the pressure off, slowing down the pace, and going with the flow.

Having worn yourself out over the weekend trying to do rest and relaxation at warp speed results in a sudden stop come Monday morning. Having raised through the pleasure game you and up hitting the wall. Some people experience Monday morning blues. They are both exhausted from the weekend and down and depressed because they are back to the grind of the week before they’ve even found their pleasure and relaxation.

Overindulgence in pleasure doesn’t help you recover from overwork.

Learning to work to live rather than live to work is good advice. The contrary suggestion is also valid. Overindulgence in pleasure devalues the happy experiences you have. Chasing pleasure during your downtime wears you out. Learn to relax and enjoy the pleasures that come your way. There’s a minimum amount of time that every human needs to sleep and to relax. Make sure you include plenty of rest in that R and R time outside of work.

The human nervous system builds up tolerance. We can develop tolerance to drugs, to alcohol, and to many behaviors. Learn to take your pleasures in small doses.

Have you worn yourself out in the manic pursuit of relaxation?

Instead of wearing yourself out trying to swim against the tide to reach the ultimate pleasure and relaxation try hopping in the inner tube and floating leisurely down the river of life. Relaxation is not something you can guzzle. Relaxation is a healthy beverage that should be patiently sipped.

Have you fallen into the trap of manic relaxation?

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

Finding your passion.

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

Finding your purpose.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You are told you should find your passion – but how?

Repeatedly we are told that to be successful in life we should pursue our passion. But how do you discover that passion, and once you have found your passion how do you decide if this is a healthy direction? It’s not unusual for someone to get extremely interested in something and for a year or two pursue it with undivided attention only to drop that activity for something else. Some passions are passing fancies. How do you know if this passion will come and go or does it have the substance that can give your life meaning and purpose?

Pursue something you love doing, not something you’re obsessed with.

An obsession is something which intrusively forces its way into your mind when you’re trying to concentrate on something else. It’s an obsession if you’re preoccupied with the activity to a troubling extent.

To find your passion examine your current interests. Is what you are doing things you love doing for their own sake. Is the practice of the skill it’s own reward or has an obsession taken over your life, trying to lead your mind off in another direction? Successful people often make substantial investments in the training, skills, and practice, that leads them to success. You may need to give up television or taking days off to devote yourself to the education and skills development necessary for success. Will this goal be worth the sacrifices?

Make sure that in the process of pursuing a potential passion you don’t neglect other essential parts of your life. Don’t give up relationships, time with your children, or ignore your physical and mental health while pursuing an obsession. The search for your passion is an area where getting outside opinions from people you trust can be helpful. Don’t let naysayers deter you from reaching your goals, but if several people warn you that you’re headed in a dangerous direction heed their warning.

When your purpose calls answer it.

The unhappiest people are those who feel they had a calling they didn’t answer. Neglecting your calling is worse for your mental health than never having found your purpose. If you discover something which gives your life meaning and purpose, and that you would be happy spending your life doing regardless of the outcome, this is probably your life purpose come knocking. Don’t let fear or trivial things get in the way of dedicating for yourself that something is worthwhile.

Persistence without passion will grind you down.

You probably heard that to become skilled at anything you need to put in thousands of hours of practice. The more you practice something, the better you become at it. Repeatedly doing something that brings you joy takes more dedication than effort. Practicing something when your heart is not in it is likely to wear you out rather than build you up.

Be careful that someone else has not selected your passion for you. The long hours of practice required to fulfill someone else’s dream will rob you of your own life.

What you put effort into may become your passion.

If the goal of what you’re doing is worthwhile, do it wholeheartedly. Doing important things can help you discover what matters most in your life. Whatever you do, seek to do it without reservation. If it’s not worth putting in your best effort try to cut it out of your life. Over time you will find the things that are easy to devote your energy to are the things which you’re passionate about.

Do what you believe in, and you may come to love it.

Just loving something is not enough. Many things in life are enjoyable for a season. Beyond temporary satisfaction, you need to have the belief that this is worthwhile. Approach every task in life as if what you’re trying to do matters. The things you put the most effort into are likely to turn out to be the things you become incredibly passionate about.

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

The Paths to a Happy Life.

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

Happiness

Thoughts to make you happier.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The Pursuit of Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

There are many paths that may take you to happiness. The trail that takes one person there may not work for someone else. One of the surprising things about happiness is, it’s less about the specific road you’re traveling and more about the way you take the journey.

You don’t reach happiness by traveling the road of misery. Those people who enjoy what they’re doing and do what they enjoy collect happiness along the way. If you spend your life wallowing in misery, don’t expect to arrive at happiness.

Learning to recognize happiness makes you a happiness expert.

Every day has little happy moments that come and go. People walk right past a beautiful flower in bloom and never notice it. If you want more happiness in your life, you need to become an expert at recognizing those little happy moments.

You can increase your happiness in life by practicing recognizing happiness when it is in front of you. Rushing from place to place looking for happiness is probably taking you right past the thing you’re looking for.

Belonging matters more than belongings in creating happiness.

Acquiring things, ownership for its own sake generally results in a short-lived burst of pleasure. Then the joy fades quickly. Relationships, healthy and happy ones, maximize your happiness over the long run. When you look back on your life, you’re more likely to fondly remember the experiences you shared with others than the things you bought.

Accumulate emotional wealth to expand your happiness.

Too much emphasis on accumulating financial wealth results in you becoming an unhappy miser. Grow your financial assets for what you can do with them. People who use their time and money to create positive experiences accumulate emotional wealth, the kind that isn’t taxed.

Late in life, when people reflect on what they remember and what they regret, most common regrets are the things they always said they wanted to do but never did.

You must give it away to keep it. Being selfish reduces happiness.

Doing things for others can bring you great joy. Being selfish emphasizes what you lack not what you have. Do what you can for others, and their happiness will be added to yours.

Doing for the joy of it multiplies happiness.

The most delightful job on earth is the one where you do something you absolutely love, and they pay you to do it. Whatever you do try to find positive in everything you do. Happily doing the simplest task with a positive outlook can increase your happiness.

The happy life stays in balance.

A little water quenches thirst; too much will drown you. The human body needs exercise, but it also needs rest. The happy life is one that strives for balance rather than believing that a large amount of one item will make up for all the other deficits. Balance your work and your leisure. Take care of your physical body. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Balance the time you spend with others and the time, you reserved for yourself.

Happiness requires doing, act.

Reaching happiness requires a journey. Try each day to do one thing worth doing. You can think about what you’re going to do forever, but it’s only a fantasy. To make your dreams come true, you must act. Avoid excessive judgment and give yourself credit for things done.

Maximize your contentment by wanting less.

Wanting is a mirage. The more you want, the less you value what you have. Happiness that comes from contentment has a long shelf life. Satisfaction comes from appreciating what you have and limiting your wants to those things you’re willing to work for.

Cultivate gratitude, and you will become happier.

People who are grateful find it much easier to be happy. Gratitude is the kind of tree that requires nurturing. The more you grow your gratitude, the more fruit it will bear. Focusing on what you don’t have can lead to depression. When you are grateful for what you have you then you will feel energized to continue along the paths which lead to permanent happiness.

Stop comparing yourself to those with more.

If you constantly compare yourself to those who have more than you do, you will always come up short and unhappy. The more you feel empathy for those who have less than you the more you will appreciate what you do have.

I realize those directions are a little sketchy, but I believe that if you follow these paths, you will have a productive life full of opportunities to pursue happiness.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Loving yourself is OK.

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Low Self-esteem

Low Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Loving others requires loving yourself.

People in a positive, loving relationship need to develop a skill which we used to call Healthy Narcissism, today we might call this high self-esteem. Researchers in the mental health field, believe that a thing called healthy narcissism exists in mentally healthy people. Freud said that our love for others develops from the way we feel about ourselves.

Parents who feel good about themselves can share that love with the children. Parents who feel inadequate find it hard to approve of anything their children do. The more you judge yourself, the more you judge others. High self-esteem or health narcissism is quite different from the unhealthy narcissism we see in people who develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

When you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s hard to like others.

People with low self-esteem find it difficult to have good relationships with others. A negative view of yourself carries over into negative attitudes towards other people, the world, and the future. Having good relationships with others bolsters your self-esteem. Taking good care of yourself increases your ability to care about others.

Developing an extremely narcissistic personality is one way people protect themselves when they have low self-esteem. Feeling yourself with positive feelings creates a surplus that you can share with others. When you see the world through the lens of negativity, everything looks dark and unhappy.

How do you tell healthy self-esteem from pathological narcissism?

Healthy self-esteem results in good mental health. People who feel good about themselves have less anxiety and are more positive and optimistic. People with pathological narcissism, have shaky self-esteem. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder needs to feel superior to others to feel okay about himself.

If you are high in self-esteem, you have plenty of love to share. When your self-esteem is fragile and is based on the beliefs that you are the superior person, and that others should admire you for your greatness, your ability to love and care for others is limited. A pathological narcissist does not love other people; they see others as things they are entitled to use to meet their needs.

Narcissists think they are better than others. People with high self-esteem can see their good points and the good characteristics of others. Narcissists always believed they are better at things that they are. People with high self-esteem feel good about their accomplishments and can see the areas that need improvement.

Narcissists are selfish and believe they deserve the best of everything. People with high self-esteem take good care of themselves so that they will be able to take care of others. People with high self-esteem what their relationships to be caring. Narcissists have little interest in warm, close relationships and see their connections with others as tools they use to get what they want.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions, and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                           Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology.

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Posts about having a happy life will be found in the category – happiness.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

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