Ways to increase your attention without drugs

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

Attention sign.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Things you can do to improve your attention span besides taking medication.

This digital age has resulted in a radical reduction in attention spans. Adults average just 4 seconds of time on a website. T. V. shows are chopped up into small segments punctuated with lots of adrenaline, producing sex and violence.

Adult learners get shorter presentations and more breaks. It is as if the whole world now has developed ADHD. Here are some ways you can work on improving your attention span beyond the norm that does not require you to take medication.

1. Eat a good breakfast.

Low blood sugar or lack of energy can significantly impact your ability to pay attention. Children who eat a breakfast at home before school do much better in their classes before lunch than those students who have skipped breakfast.

It is hard to make your mind go when you are out of fuel.

2. Drink plenty of water.

Dehydration can have a significant impact on learning. Drink more water and you will feel better. Blood feeds the brain and blood is composed largely of water.

Ever tried to think with a hangover? One of the reasons hangovers are so debilitating is that you are dehydrated.

3. Exercise.

Even a few minutes of vigorous walking can improve your ability to pay attention and learn. Exercise gets the heart pumping and speeds the flow of blood to the brain. In one study of the effects of walking on classroom performance, a short walk was shown to increase memory and retention of the material that was taught after the walk. Those who walked did not think they were doing better, they even felt tired after the walk, but their test scores showed an improvement.

A few minutes of running at recess has been reported to reduce behavior problems and improve attention. Staying inside to “catch up” on missed work and try to improve standardized test scores can produce the exact opposite effect.

4. Prioritize – you can’t focus on it all.

The myth of multi-tasking has turned out to be just that, a myth. You can’t text, talk, listen to music and be at your best while driving. We have had to set limits on technology use while driving and we are having the same problem in the classroom and the work site.

If you want to pay attention and learn something, clear your mind of thoughts of other things while working on the new material.

5. Clear out the worries.

Ruminating on problems uses up a lot of brain capacity. If you have a sick family member or had a conflict at home last night then divided attention is understandable.

Work on solving those problems or on shifting your focus and leave the problems for later to later if you want to do well now.

6. Manage distractions.

Turn off the phone. Close the internet connection (temporarily, you can read my blog later) Do not try to pay attention to one thing while monitoring others.

7. Mass attention – Work on one project for a while then switch. Take small breaks at frequent intervals.

In classrooms we give brakes. If you need to eat or use the restroom then you won’t have the maximum attention. If you have several subjects to study, work on one for a while, take a break and then change to another.

Writers are encouraged to work on one project for a while, take a break and then return for another “massed effort.” String together enough of those bursts of focus and the post or book gets done. Sitting staring at the blank page leaves a lot of blank pages in memory.

8. Break tasks up into small steps.

You can’t eat an elephant in one bite. Most worthwhile projects cannot be done in one sitting or standing. Structure your project so you can do one step at a time and over a period of time, you will get it done. Trying to work on all the aspects of a project at once is a recipe for disaster.

If you must work on several steps in a project at once try to chunk the efforts so that you get something done on one part before switching to the next.

9. More than 3 steps – write out lists.

I picked the number three because it works for me. You might need another number. If I go to the grocery store for three items, I can remember that. But if someone asks me to pick up a fourth item, I am at risk of forgetting one of the original three.

If I get distracted at the store because I think of a fifth item to look for it may be all over.

I find that once I exceed a small number of items, to shop for or to do, I need a list so that as one item is done I can move to the next. Trying to remember all of the items or steps in a project risks leaving out a really important one.

Want better attention and concentration make lists.

10. Recognize when you are off focus and then refocus.

Sorry but not very many of us can stay focused on a task for a long period of time. Suddenly for no apparent reason, the mind wanders off to another thing you need or want to do.

Do not obsess when this happens. Gently take your mind back to the task at hand. The more you practice redirecting your mind the more automatic it becomes.

Those are some of my tips for improving my ability to pay attention and stay focused. Do you have any techniques you would care to share?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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16 Ways to make this a great day

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

Good day

Today is going be a good day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Try these 16 steps to create a great day.

1. Let go of things before you sleep.

Great Day Flowers

Great Day Flowers
Photo courtesy of Flickr (johnbanchory)

Your brain tends to spend all night working on the things you give it to think about. Try to clear the memory of negativity before you sleep. Pray, meditate, read something positive and think about how you will make tomorrow a great day.

Spending the night with your mind working on happy thoughts will set up the next day in the right direction.

2. Lay things out the night before.

Decide what you will wear. Pick out the clothes. If something is dirty or not where it should be the time to solve this problem is the night before not when you are rushing off to work. Anticipate morning problems and solve them the night before.

Lay things you will need for work out. This prevents forgetting something and starting the day with problems. Plan your lunch menu if possible. Taking a small lunch packed the night before can save you a lot of money over eating out.

Make sure to plan this ahead of time or you may discover you do not have time to make things you would like. Include a few treats that you will look forward to.

3. Get to bed on time – allow time for rest.

Staying up late cuts your sleep short. Being tired first thing each day makes the whole rest of the day harder.

4. Do not start your day off rushed.

Allow time for everything and do not stress yourself out by having to rush. Most people allow less time for travel than it will take. The result is that you will become angry and stressed before you arrive at your workplace.

5. Have a morning routine.

Having a morning routine help you start the day in the zone. Familiar is comforting. There is time enough for variety and excitement later in the day. Keep your morning tranquil.

6. Eat something good for you.

Healthy does not have to taste badly. Spend some time planning healthy and enjoyable things to eat. Make grocery shopping and meal preparation an adventure, not a burdensome chore.

7. Make your commute relaxing.

Look for the least stressful or most enjoyable route when possible. Have things in your car that make the trip more enjoyable. A cushion for the back, a holder for your drink all add to the flow of the day.

Start on time or a few minutes early and avoid the “crazy’s” by allowing all the room and time you need to keep the commute relaxing.

Some places have horrific commutes these days. You can make your trip an ordeal by fire and fumes or a relaxing ride in your cocoon before the stress of the day. The difference is primarily in your preparation and your attitude.

8. Listen to your music.

Whatever your music is, try to have some available for the commute. The news is fine, traffic and weather are fine, but a steady diet of disasters makes you stressed. Try to relax and pamper yourself throughout the day whenever possible.

9. Take time to call or email a friend.

Work an email or a call to a friend into your schedule at least once a day. Put this personal contact on the calendar if only as a mental note to self. Email before work or before bed to have something to look forward to. Call and talk in person when possible.

Staying in touch with positive, supportive, people reduces stress and frames the rest of your day with a happy light. Don’t try this while driving or during other activities that require sustained attention. Multitasking is a myth.

10. Smile early and often.

Smile and others will smile back. A smile makes others less stressed and they will reciprocate. Even if you do not really “feel it” smile all you can. Think to yourself that a smile will keep your competitors wondering what you are up to.

11. Watch a bird.

Look for the things going on in the world all around you. In the poorest places, you will see the birds working on their nests, mating and having babies. Watch them soar and your spirit can climb with them. We are all always connected to the rest of the creatures surrounding us.

12. Enjoy a flower.

There are small snips of beauty everywhere. The weed in the vacant lot still puts out an occasional flower. Look for the beauty and take the time to let those moments of joy sink into your brain. You will need those happy thoughts when the day becomes challenging. Save up the positive and let it soak in.

13. Read a good book or story. Watch a funny video.

Books can transport you to alternate realities. They can expand your imagination and creativity as your mind fills in the details that you can’t see.

A good video can inspire or amuse you. There are plenty of negative stories out there. Look for the tales that enlarge your world and expand your happiness.

 14. Pray, meditate or follow a religious practice.

People with a religious or spiritual faith, who consistently practice that faith, have happier, less stressful lives.

15. Say an affirmation.

Positive self-talk can brighten and improve your day. Find an affirmation that you believe can come true and repeat it to yourself. Your brain will work on making this affirmation a part of who you are.

Remember not to tell yourself any lies. Don’t try to tell your mind today will be an easy day when you know it will be difficult. Say to yourself that today will be a challenge but I will get through it and you will find that you got through it.

Tell yourself this will be a bad day and it will. Tell yourself that you will have a good day no matter what life throws at you and you will have a lot better day.

16. Be of service to someone else.

Help someone else for a brighter day. Anytime you help a child or someone in need it makes you feel better. Do enough good deeds and you become a better person. People who know that their goodness is based on being of service to others feel really good about themselves.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

15 Life Lessons you need to learn

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

Learning lifes lessons

Life lessons you need to learn.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What life lessons do you still need to learn?

There are certain life lessons you will need to learn soon or later. If you were taught them when you were young then you got off to a good start in life.

If no one taught you these things you will need to go looking for teachers that can help you learn these lessons and develop these skills. Which of these 15 life lessons do you still need to work on?

1. Learn all you can about yourself.

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

2. How to be genuinely happy.

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

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

3. Learn to believe in yourself.

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

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

4. Develop the skill of loving yourself.

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

5. Accept that it is OK to fail.

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

6. The buck stops with you.

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

7. You need positive friends.

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

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

8. Help others and accept their help.

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

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

9. Communication is about understanding others.

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

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

10. Feelings are your friends, not your foes.

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

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

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

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

12. Love and laugh.

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

13. Believe in something or someone besides yourself.

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

14. Learn how to set goals.

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

15. Learn how to play.

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

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

12 Ways to make your head a better neighborhood

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

Bad neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

1. Adopt a daily affirmation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Increase the number of friends that inhabit your memories.

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

5. Face your fears and anxieties.

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

6. Stop angering yourself.

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

Mostly what you can change are yourself and your attitude.

7. Forgive yourself repeatedly.

If you have made an error, been less than you wanted to be, learn to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself often, repeat as needed.

8. Accept your past made you who you are.

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

9. Stop blaming others and insisting they change.

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

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

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

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

11. Avoid seeing things as black or white, all or nothing.

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

12. Thinking that your past has determined your future keeps you in the past.

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

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Things you need to stop worrying about

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

Man worrying,

Some things you do not need to worry about.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Worrying about the wrong things is keeping you stuck.

Some things may be worth worrying about. Especially if that worry will spur you to take action and change something.

There are a whole lot of things that consume people’s time in worry that really should not be on your list of things to worry about.

Chuck these topics of worry for a happier more productive life.

1. Stop worrying about what others think about you.

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

2. Stop worrying that you are not good enough.

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

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

3. Stop worrying about what you “should” do.

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

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

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

You are always doing what you are doing now.

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

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

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

5. Do not worry about someone else’s issues.

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

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

6. Stop trying to get someone to do what you want.

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

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

7. Don’t worry that you do not have enough education

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

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

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

8. Do not worry about your looks.

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

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

9. Do not think that you can’t face a problem.

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

10. Avoid rehashing what you should have done.

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

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

11. Stop thinking that you are not doing enough.

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

12. Do not worry that you are doing too much.

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

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

13. Stop worrying about things that are out of your control.

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

Worrying about the unexpected wears you out and accomplishes nothing.

14. Do not worry that you are going to fast.

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

15. Stop thinking that you made a mistake.

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

16. Avoid worrying about money.

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

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

17. Avoid the thought that there is something wrong with you.

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

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

18. Don’t worry that you do not have the best things.

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

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

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

19. Stop thinking that your opinion is wrong.

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

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

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

20. Stop worrying that people are taking advantage of you.

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

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

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

21. Do not worry that others are better than you.

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

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

22. Don’t worry that you are out of time.

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

23. The things you want will never happen.

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

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

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

18 Ways you are a really bad parent.

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

Child crying

Ways to be a bad parent.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

18 ways to be a really bad parent.

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

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

1. Never tell your kids you love them.

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

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

2. Point out everything wrong with your child.

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

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

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

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

3. Belittle children in public whenever possible.

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

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

4. Do all the things you told them not to.

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

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

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

6. Remind them you expect them to be a failure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Tell them how they should be feeling.

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

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

10. Never let them think for themselves.

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

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

11. Tell them everything, never ask.

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

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

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

13. Family communication means you tell them.

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

14. Toughen them up for the real world.

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

15. Teach them what a bully really looks like.

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

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

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

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

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

18. Forget being consistent, keep them guessing.

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

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

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

16 Ways to create a happy life.

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

Happy children

Happy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Not feeling very good about your life?

Here are 16 ways you can make your life a happier environment.

1. Do things you can be proud of.

Happy dog

Happy dog.
Photo courtesy of Flickr

When you do things you are proud of, you feel good about yourself. When you feel good about yourself it makes you happy.

To be something you are proud of what you do does not need to be any grand gesture. Make sure you recognize those little positive things you do each day.

Start recognizing all that you do for yourself and for others each day and hold on to those lists of things you have accomplished across your lifetime.

What are the things you are most proud of that you have done so far in your life? Can you do more of those things?

2. Do things for others.

Doing good deeds will make you happier than doing selfish ones. Whenever we are able to help someone else we get an opportunity to feel good about ourselves. Make sure you are doing this because you want to do something for another and as a result feel good yourself. If you do a good deed because someone forces you to or you do one which you really don’t want to do, it will result in developing a resentment.

3. Make a new friend.

Making friends will add to your happiness. Sometimes those friends are just for now. You talk to someone on the bus or in line and then you head off in opposite directions. Other times you will put out your hand, start a conversation or offer to help and the result will be a friend that will brighten your life for a long time to come.

4. Schedule time to take care of you.

Make self-care a top priority. You can’t feel good or happy if you neglect yourself. Eat well, sleep enough to repair your body and give yourself time to relax.

5. Treat yourself to something positive you enjoy.

Life should not be made up solely of the necessities. Sometimes you need to treat and pamper yourself. Be sure that these little treats for yourself are positive, not negative pleasures. Do things for yourself that involve relaxation and pleasure, not overspending or substance abuse. That would mean your pleasure comes at a cost that needs to be paid tomorrow.

6. Include humor in your life every chance you get.

Laughter changes your mood. The more you laugh the happier you become. If watching an hour of comedy does not brighten your mood you may have a significant depression. In that case get help.

Take what you do seriously but do not take yourself overly seriously. Learn to laugh at your own foibles. We all have them, but the happy people can laugh at their oddities.

7. Make up a gratitude list.

If you must compare yourself, pick people who have less than you to use for comparison. Be grateful for all you have. There are others, in your town or across the sea that have far less than you. Do not take blessings for granted but develop the practice of seeing those benefits when you have them.

8. Express yourself.

There are all kinds of ways to express you. Some people do it by talking. You may also find that you can express yourself through a drawing, singing or dance. You do not need to be an expert. You do not need to be any particular way. What you do need to do is to find ways that allow you to express and affirm who you are.

Draw, make music or write. Be creative.

9. Visit Mother Nature.

We are getting a long way away from our roots. More people now live in cities than in small towns and rural areas. Make it a practice to stay connected to Mother Nature outside the times of inclement weather.

Take a trip to the beach or the mountains. Visit a park. Grow a plant. Take a walk and notice the things that are growing, flowering and reaching for the sky.

Marvel at the birds that manage to eke out a living in our cities and still can fly off to places in the trees.

10. Spend time with a favorite animal.

Animals can be powerful connections to a happy life. Have a pet. Watch an animal that lives in your neighborhood. Visit a park and watch the birds and the squirrels.

11. Clean your glasses.

If you start to long at a dirty world the lenses through which you look become dirty. The constant mudslinging on the news can color your view of the world.

Find a fresh positive way to view your world. Look for people who do good things. Find youth that is making a difference and encourage them.

12. Develop your intuition.

Those nerve cells in your body are there for a reason. Learn to listen to those feelings in your stomach and those pains in your neck. They can help you identify risks and pleasures that your conscious mind has forgotten.

Notice the feel of the sun on your skin when you are cold. Live in tune with your senses for greater happiness wherever you find yourself.

13. Care for your body.

The part you call your body is not some inconvenient appendage to your thoughts. The flesh is not a lesser creature to be abused. Get plenty of good healthy food. Sleep well. Do not overtax your body. Do let it have the exercise it needs to function well.

Maintain your body and you will get years of happy use from it. Do not make it carry excess weight or do more than it can with less rest and food than it needs.

14. Develop a schedule for your day and week.

Create a rhythm for your life. Use schedules to bring certainty and predictability to your life. Keep those schedules loose and flexible enough to provide security. But do not become a slave to the tyranny of an excessively crowded schedule of your own making.

Include time in that schedule for happiness and the things that make you happy.

15. Nurture your mind and spirit.

Spend your time wisely. All work leaves you an unhappy person with things. Invest some of that time you get each day on things that improve and nurture your mind and your spirit. Read, watch a play, practice your religious faith.

16. Forgive yourself.

Making mistakes is a part of living life as a human. Learn to accept yourself warts and all. Let your mistakes go. Learn from experiences but don’t stay stuck in regrets.

These are some of my suggestions for creating a happy life. Do you have others that you would care to share?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.