Surviving sadness – avoiding depression

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

Sad child

Sad.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you cope with sadness when your life goes on?

Sadness is a normal part of life. You feel sad sometimes and then the sadness passes and you move on. Sometimes we feel sadness and we get stuck there. The longer you stay stuck the more likely you are to slip down into the quicksand of depression.

So what should you do when that sadness feeling comes lurking around?

1. Let yourself feel what you feel.

It is OK to feel what you feel. Some things are sad. Sometimes we feel sad just because we do. We hear of someone else’s misfortune and it makes us sad. We see something and we feel this feeling. This is called empathy, the ability to understand and experience what others feel. Put yourself in another’s shoes and you will understand some part of their sadness.

Do not try to stop the feeling the second it comes on. It is OK to experience it. Just do not stay there and wallow in the feeling. Understand that this feeling like all other feelings can pass if you permit it.

2. Share with someone else.

In times of trouble, we need to share our sadness with others. We talk about our pain and grief with friends or family. If you have religious faith or a spiritual tradition you will want to seek out those with like beliefs.

When there is no one that you feel comfortable turning to, when there is no one there or when you do not feel comfortable putting your sadness on those close to you there are professionals that can help. Seek them out.

3. Share with yourself – write it out.

Sadness that continues to rattle around in the head magnifies itself. A first step in getting loose from the sadness is to get it out.

Some people find that journaling, writing about their sadness or depression, helps discharge it. Others use drawing or dance to express these sentiments.

4. Turn sadness into motivation.

A sad event in your life can be the tipping point that turns your life around. Lose someone to a drug overdose and you may be motivated to become a counselor.

How might your sadness, pain, and suffering become tools to help you find your purpose in life?

5. Treat yourself to things you like.

Learn those things that make you happy and make it a point to allow yourself those items on the list that are positive.

6. Budget extra sleep time

Not getting enough rest, being over tired, is a way to let sadness and depression overcome you. Get plenty of rest. Make bedtime a regularly scheduled event.

One type of depression (atypical features) results in people who start to stay in bed all the time. They eat more than normal, like a bear ready for winter and then sleep day and night. If you find that you are tired all the time and just do not have the energy to get out of bed and do things, try setting a time for bed and one for getting up. If that still is a problem consider an evaluation by a professional for possible depression.

7. Eat regular meals.

Failure to eat on time, lack of energy can result in sad, tired feelings also. This makes it hard to get back into life after a life event that creates sadness. Take care of yourself and that especially means eating in a healthy way if you want to reduce the impact of sadness on your life and mental health.

8. Invest in laughter.

Laughing can be a powerful antidote for sadness. Watch a sitcom, visit a comedy club, tell jokes, and your sadness fades. Not able to laugh when the rest of the crowd does? That is a sign that your feeling has moved beyond sadness to major depression. Laughter is a great medicine, take some daily if possible,

9. Hang out with positive people.

You become like the people you spend time with. You friends are your future. Hang with the winners if you want to win. Hanging out with downers will pull you down.

10. Take frequent short breaks.

When you are down and sad, things can be overwhelming. Do what you can. Do not give up. Do a little and then take a break. Repeat as needed. Be kind to yourself when times are tough.

11. Exercise.

A little movement can brighten your mood. Walk around the block if that is all you are up to. Exercise is a good prescription for depression and a little can be a preventative when it comes to the progression from sadness to depression.

Try to include some exercise in your regular routine to improve both psychical health and mental health.

12. Change the scenery.

Get out of the house. Take your lunch break away from the office. Do something new on your time off. A change of scenery can create a new perspective on life and on your troubles.

13. Learn to say no.

When sad we tend to give in and go along. This can create feelings of resentment. Learn to set boundaries. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of. Saying no to requests that are beyond your current abilities can reduce your stress and keep your sadness from drowning you.

14. Avoid negative people.

Misery may love company, but it loves miserable company. If you want to get out of the sadness trap seek out positive people. Limit your exposure to naysayers and Negative Nellie’s.

15. Plan for time to yourself.

When you are down, too much commotion and too many people can be overwhelming. Include in your schedule quiet time for yourself.

16. Reconnect with supportive people.

Make sure those people you do contact are supportive. Call an old friend. Attend a self-help meeting even if you do not feel like it. Being around supportive people is good for your recovery and for your future mental health.

What other positive coping skills have you discovered that keeps your sadness from becoming a serious depressive episode?

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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Are you wasting your life chasing mirages?

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

Chasing a mirage.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Stop chasing these mirages and you will finally get somewhere.

Life is full of illusions. People chase after all sorts of mirages and forget to enjoy the view from where they are. Here are some of the more common mirages you may have set your sights on.

1. Making everyone like you.

Not possible. Some people do not like themselves so they have no capacity to like you. If you bend yourself to try to please everyone you will please no one. In the process of trying to get everyone to like you, you will need to do things that undermine your values and self-worth.

Please enough people, and you forget who you were when you started out.

Make your priority to do things that are consistent with your values and your goals. First and foremost please you and those who like you and want the best for you will be pleased.

2. Being the best at everything.

No one is the best at everything. You will never be the best at everything. You may become good at a few things. With incredible luck and effort, you might be the best at one thing. Pick the areas that you try to perfect carefully. Do not set yourself up for disappointment when you are not number one in everything.

3. Trying to be perfect.

Like being the best at everything, trying to be perfect at something is an impossible to reach mirage. We spend our lives working toward that goal of perfecting something but there is always the possibility that you or someone will take that skill to another level. If you look close enough at anything you can find flaws.

4. Putting things off until someday.

Someday never comes. Every day is today. Most of life’s regrets are about things left undone. Do not let fear and hesitation keep you from doing things today rather than putting them off to that mythical someday.

5. Expecting others to make you a success.

If someone can make you they can unmake you. Having teachers and mentors along the way that help you perfect your skills is a wonderful blessing. Do not think that your successes are a thing someone can give you. Do not also stare at the mirage of believing your failures are the creation of someone else.

6. Finding the person who will complete you.

Two half people do not make a whole person. There is not one person that completes you. Find that person that truly brings out the best in you and together you will grow into the two separate people you were meant to be.

The best combination is two people who are each working on becoming the best they can be.

7. Not needing others or their help.

You successes do not depend on others but no one really goes it alone. We need the support and encouragement of others. The team accomplishes more than the one. What you make of life stands on the shoulders of others who came before you.

8. Trying not to change.

You will change. Time will change you. Life experiences will change you. Standing still is a recipe for failure. Take who you are with you through the process of change that is sure to come and you will become the person you envisioned.

9. Living through others (children.)

Trying to live to make others happy is a terrible burden. You children cannot make up for your failures. You cannot make someone else the successes you wanted to be. What good teachers know is a that they can pass on the lessons of their life to the next generation but what those prodigies do with those skills is up to them.

Trying to live your life through others is a formula for resentments, yours and theirs.

10. There is something out there that will make you what you want to be.

The idea that drugs, alcohol or some other thing out there will suddenly make you more than you are is a common illusion.  Superman’s cape only worked in the comics and the movies.

Thinking that there is a drug, especially alcohol, that will make you who you want to be will lead you off into the sands of the chemical desert.

Are you chasing after any of these mirages? Are there other things you pursue that are not real? Find your way back to the real world and do the work of recovery and things will begin to happen for you.

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.

Is Your Relationship Healthy? 10 Signs of a good relationship

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

People on path

Path to a better relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How can you tell if you are in a good relationship?

There are lots of things written about bad relationships, how to spot them, how to end them. But sometimes it pays to take another look at your relationship. How would you know if this was a good one?

Every relationship has its ups and downs. At the down times, any relationship can look like a mistake. Over time though, good relationships have more of certain characteristics.

Your relationship is less than you want? Work on having more of these good characteristics and your relationship quality may well improve.

1. You feel good about yourself when you are with them.

A good relationship should make you feel good about yourself. That also means you should work on making your partner feel good about themselves. If you need to put your partner down and belittle them, this says a lot about you. If your partner does not build you up most of the time there is some reason they do not appreciate you and this relationship is headed for trouble.

The sooner in the relationship, you spot this behavior of cutting each other down instead of building each other up the better your chances of changing the behavior or avoiding a long-term destructive relationship.

2. You can tell your partner how you feel.

If you need to censor your feelings this is a bad sign. In a healthy relationship, you can tell your partner how you feel without them needing you to change or telling you that you have no right feel the way you do.

3. You do not need to keep secrets from them.

Sure some things need to be kept a secret. Like their birthday present. But if you find that you do not feel safe in telling your partner thinks this is a bad sign. Healthy relationships do not require people to keep secrets to be acceptable.

There may be times you censor what you say. You do not have an obligation to tell everyone you know about every flaw in their character you see. Tack is not the same thing as needing to keep things a secret.

4. You have fun together.

Being together should be fun. If every time you spend time together you are holding on for this time to end this is a really bad sign.

In the early stages of a relationship, it is all about us and more us. Eventually, you both need to develop who you are separate from each other. But there ought to still be times you want to spend time together and that time should be something you look forward to.

5. You would pick them first.

When thinking about who you want to see, who to spend time with, who to spend your life with you should have your partner at the top of your list. If you would never pick your partner first then why did you pick them at all?

Think back to when you two first started together why did you pick them? What are the good things about them?

6. You can talk with them.

Humans communicate verbally and nonverbally. If you are there for the touch but not the conversation, this sounds like half a relationship to me. There should be times when you like to have a conversation together, not because there is a problem to solve but just because it is fun to talk with each other.

7. Problems get solved.

Do you two solve problems together? Especially can you solve relationship problems? If you find that your relationship is stuck in problems that never get solved, then you need to do some work on this relationship fast. A relationship that is always and only a problem is one you run from not run towards.

8. You do not have to change for them to like you.

A partner should like you for who you are and the ways you are. This does not mean they do not see your flaws. They see those defects of character and like you anyway.

If you find that every interaction with a partner is a request for you to change, this tells you that they wish you were someone other than the person you are.

Do you like your partner for who they are or are you settling for someone you dislike to avoid being alone?

9. You bring out the best in each other.

Do you make each other better, bring out the best in each other? That sounds like a good relationship. If you bring out the worst in each other, do things when around that partner you would be ashamed to do around others, this is likely to end badly.

10. You are headed in the same direction.

If you have the same or similar beliefs, you share goals, hopes, and dreams, then you are headed in the same direction and can enjoy the life journey together. If you do not want the same things from life or have very different goals this makes for an unpleasant journey.  Most of us remember a lot of things from the past, those past memories are likely to be biased in the direction of painful experiences, memories of mistakes you made.

Different values and goals, you are in for a difficult journey.

Two people who have differences can work together and have a good life but they need to respect and support each other in the life journey and they need to be agreeable to where each plans to end up.

There are my 10 characteristics of a good relationship. How many of these does your relationship have? Are you willing to work to improve your relationship score?

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.

Making Feelings Your Friends

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

group of friends.

Friendship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

20 ways to make your emotions your friends, not your master.

Sometime near the Victorian era humans adopted the idea that emotions were bad and pure rational thought was good. The result is that a lot of people make a serious effort to stay out of touch with their feelings.

Not allowing yourself to feel sad can result in an inability to feel happy.

Recently studies have shown that top executives who paid attention to their feelings, used their intuition as an element in making decisions were significantly more successful at growing their companies.

Here are some suggested practices that can make those feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, into friends that are providing you with the information you need to create the life you want.

1. Pay attention to the times you are feeling.

Do not ignore traffic lights or sirens. Learn to pay attention to the alarms that go off in your building and in your head.

The first step in making friends with your feelings is to notice when they are trying to tell you something. Like young children, these feelings you have been ignoring may keep repeating their message over and over until you stop and acknowledge that you have felt them.

2. Learn where your feelings live.

Most of us house feelings in particular places. Tension lives in the neck or head. Discussed can make you sick to your stomach. When you get a strange body sensation do not dismiss it. Check it out. Is this a physical ache or pain or is this emotional? A whole lot of undiagnosable pains turn out to be feelings that people mistake for a physical ailment. Yes, psychosomatic pain hurts. It is your emotions that live in your body telling you that they need your attention.

3. Learn the names of your feelings.

If you have feelings, and we all do, after you have identified that you are having this sensation, psychical or emotional, next try to put a name to the feeling. The more names you can attach to feelings the more accurate the information they can provide to you.

4. Recognize that others may not be feeling what you are feeling – empathy.

Not everyone experiences an event the same way. Learn to recognize that others may be scared when you are intrigued. What makes someone else feel excitement may make you fearful.

5. Study and learn about nonverbal expressions of feelings.

More than half of human emotions are conveyed in nonverbal form. We share this with other animals. A growl means one thing and a wagging tail and a whimper another Humans make nonverbal statements all the time.

You probably do it whether you realize it or not.

Ever noticed someone who rolled their eyes when others talk? It is annoying if you are the one who is on the receiving end of the eye roll.

Do you roll your eyes? Make an effort to notice how others express their emotions nonverbally and then challenge yourself to see the times you use the same nonverbal displays of your emotions. You may be surprised that you have been giving off a lot of unconscious “vibes.”

6. Get to know yourself – what makes you feel each feeling.

In therapy, I often ask the client to tell me what makes them happy and what makes them sad. A surprisingly large number cannot list things that produce either of these feelings. They may occasionally feel happy but they have no idea why. If you know what makes you happy you can try to increase the happy experiences in life.

7. Stay in the present.

The feelings that matter most are those you are feeling right now. The nervous system is perfectly capable of reliving past experiences and providing you the feelings that accompanied those experiences. Staying in the present allows you to make the maximum use of the information your feelings are providing about your current situation.

8. Make peace with the past.

Most of us remember a lot of things from the past, those past memories are likely to be biased in the direction of painful experiences, memories of mistakes you made.

9. Do not try to live the future before it gets here.

You can dream the future. You can prepare for it and practice for it, but your life is lived in the present. Make that the best possible present and you will create the future you want.

10. Believe in something beyond yourself.

Realistic people know that they are not perfect. We all make mistakes. The more you do the more errors you will make. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Do not expect yourself to be perfect.

Having a power greater than yourself to focus on keeps you from falling into the trap of believing that everything is unsatisfactory.

11. Set good boundaries.

Taking care of yourself is not being selfish. Set boundaries. Do not let others dump their garbage on your lawn or their negative feeling in your lap.

12. Learn to listen more than you talk.

Do not jump to conclusions. A lot of hurt feeling are the result of thinking someone said something to or about you that as not what they were really saying.

It is more important to understand what someone else is saying and feeling than it is to get them to understand you.

The person who most needs to understand you is you.

13. Observe others to see what they feel.

Words can be deceptive. Actions often speak louder than words. Watch what others do as well as say. Learn to read their nonverbal messages and see how they may be feeling behind the words they say.

14. Develop a passion – care about something.

Without a strong passion, life becomes bland. What energizes you? What do you care about? What is your life purpose and passion? Find those things and you will find that those feelings that dwell in your passion will make you a better person.

15. Learn your triggers.

Certain things can trigger strong emotions whether you want them to or not. Does the evening news make you feel informed or depressed? How does the weather and the changes of the season affect your mood states?

16. Do the right thing.

Living a life that is consistent with your values and goals will produce a life with fewer fears or regrets.

17. Give more than you take.

If you have ever helped a child or a person in need, you should have had the experience of feeling good that you could be of service. That feeling of pride in helping others is one of the great joys of life. Do not cheat yourself out of the chance to feel good by helping others. Do not cheat others out of the chance to feel good by helping you.

Do good to others for the joy of feeling good about what you did. If you do things for others expecting something in return then you are setting yourself up to feel cheated. The greatest joy is in the giving. But you can enjoy the receiving also if you accept the gift with no judgment about what it should have been.

18. Set high goals.

Set high goals for your life.  Aim higher than you need to reach to feel good about yourself. You are unlikely to accomplish more than you aimed for but do not be disheartened if you get less than all you have aimed for.

19. Accept failure as a required subject.

The only person who does not fail is the one who does not try. Learn from your misses. Take more shots and see what you may be able to accomplish.

20. Forgive yourself – guilt makes you do better, shame is that feeling of not being an OK person.

Learn the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a normal functional feeling. Guilt is the feeling “I did something I should not have done or failed to do what I should have done.” Quilt gets you to stop doing things you should not do. It can also motivate you to do those things you should do.

Shame is about feeling you are a bad person because you did something or failed in your efforts to do something. Some families are shame-based. They try to control each other by putting the others down for the things that were less than perfect. Do not feel ashamed if you tried and were less than perfect. That is what a human is supposed to do. Try, do the less than perfect, and then try again. If you can hit the bull eye the first time the target is too close.

Aiming higher by accepting that what you do, if done with good motives, is good enough.

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.

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.

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.