In How Happy Do You Want To Be?, I discuss ways to cultivate happiness and raise one's level of positive attitude.
In Tips for When a Loved One Goes Away, I offer suggestions for healthy ways to adjust when someone you love moves out of your home.
I invite you to visit my new website,
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Wishing you health, peace and balance.
How Happy Do You Want to Be?
Some of my friends say, "You are only as happy as your least happy child" while others, when asked what they want for their loved ones, respond with, "I just want them to be happy." I don't doubt this for a moment. What I would like us all to realize is that as exercising helps one's physical body to be healthier, toned, and "in shape" so it can function optimally, keeping one's brain "in shape" in order to maximize the capacity for happiness also requires careful cultivation and "exercise."
Fortunately (happily?) there is quality research in the fields of positive psychology and happiness at our fingertips. Each of us can make changes in our daily life that affects our wellbeing and overall life happiness. We each have within us, and available to us, ways to change our brains and our attitudes. We do have control over how happy we want or allow ourselves to be. When we think about what happiness is we may have a variety of definitions. For most of us the feeling is one of a deep, peaceful, and centered contentment.
Happiness is deep within and can be cultivated. Essentially, we appear to control up to 50 % of our happiness levels. The rest is likely pre-determined by our genes and our environment. People who research happiness and brain function such as Seligman, Diener, Lyubomirsky, Gilbert, Achor, Dweck, among others, emphasize the value of regularly focusing on new sources of gratitude daily, journaling, exercise, meditation, and performing random acts of kindness, as key elements to changing the brain in positive ways that significantly affect people's levels of happiness. This then affects their attitude, health, productivity, relationships, and overall quality of life. Of course there are other components such as relationships and having experiences. Relationships are very important to long term happiness. Solid social connections (or a strong, healthy, committed marriage) seems to contribute to one's happiness. And more and more we understand the value of having and/or sharing experiences (as contrasted to buying more stuff) as an important part of happiness. So, get out there and do something! Take a hike, visit the zoo, see an exhibit at a museum, go on vacation. We are more likely to enjoy the re-creation of the moments of an experience in the "re-experiencing" and "re-telling" and our emotional "revisiting" will likely raise our level of happiness.
If we raise the level of someone's positive attitude, they will probably be healthier and in many ways, more successful. What many of us are "running after" does not, in fact, contribute to increasing our happiness. Money does not buy happiness. Once we get to a certain level of income that is enough to pay our bills and help us to maintain a lifestyle we are comfortable with, more money does not bring us happiness. People who enjoy life with the means they have available and do not feel compelled to be envious or jealous about their neighbor's achievement or wealth, are happier. They do not feel a need to have more in order to show that they are better than someone else. This appears to be true except when we give money away. People who give money away appear to have greater levels of happiness than those who do not give it away.
Speaking of money, people often talk about how happy they will be if they win the lottery. Seems to be (and much research supports this) that winning the lottery makes people happy in the moment but that happiness is not sustained and after a time. The lottery winners (anywhere in the world) return to their "pre-lottery win" level of happiness. So play the lottery if you like but don't expect your level of happiness to change over time. Leave THAT to the "brain changers" discussed above.
A Good Daily Habit
Mind Your Step
Recently, while hiking alone, I noticed that my mind was wandering. I observed that when it went somewhere else, my footing was not secure. A rock underfoot went undetected and I was more likely to trip. I decided to focus on the phrase, "You are on the right trail." I gently repeated this "mantra" and my hike was enhanced beyond description. I was able to focus on the trail itself and where I was that day, at that time, at that moment. Whenever my mind wandered, I just brought it back to my breath and said, once again, "You are on the right trail."
We don't have to be on a mountain trail to focus on every step we take. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Monk, describes walking mindfully and finding peace in every step. Taking today's steps consciously and appreciating the immediate moment strengthens us as life unfolds. Whether you are reading your child a story, driving on a familiar street, or pushing your grocery cart in the supermarket, be present and stay on task. When your mind wanders, bring it back and see how much more you experience as you more fully appreciate what it is you are doing.
Tune in to your steps and you'll be surprised by what you notice.
|Sanity SaversTM TIPS
Tips For When A Loved One Goes Away
A dear friend shared the following with me: "My son left for college today. Although "prepared," I sobbed all morning. I informed my husband that he had to be less grumpy when with me since this son of ours is pretty hilarious and I relish cracking up all day."
When I heard this I was instantly reminded of the roles each of us play in our family. When a child leaves, the family dynamic changes. We each need to be conscious of our own and other family members' emotional responses as well as to the energy shifts in the family that result when someone leaves (or enters). When we do this, we are then better able to "accommodate and adjust" in the most healthful way.
Saying goodbye isn't easy. It is normal to feel sad when experiencing any loss and when we say goodbye to a loved one, the sadness we experience can be quite deep. However, sadness also helps us to appreciate happiness, being aware of the joys as well as the sorrows.
If you are having difficulty adjusting to someone moving away, perhaps these suggestions of some healthy ways to adjust may be helpful so that the experience can enrich your life:
Allow Yourself to be Sad. - Denying such feelings doesn't make them go away. Instead, cry if you feel like it; you will likely feel some relief when you finish.
Schedule a Sadness/Nostalgia Day. - Plan a day or evening just to be alone, listen to music that evokes nostalgia for you, and observe your thoughts and feelings. You may wish to write them down. Making time for experiencing your feelings helps you gain insight into your emotions.
Cultivate a Positive Attitude. - Focusing on past and "what-ifs" can contribute to a depleted mood and spirit. Projecting into the future with worry and anticipatory anxiety also contributes to sucking away life's vital energy source. Mindfulness and other types of meditation or focusing practices can help to train your brain to stay in the present and allow you to experience the sadness as well as appreciate the joy. Finding a way to address the sadness by tuning into ourselves and being conscious of our attitudes will help us all stay "present" and that which is happening now, at this moment. In that space, we can be aware of our feeling without judgment and focus on sending positive thoughts and energy to others in our life.
Reexamine How You Look at Changes in Your Life. - Change often involves growth. We need to be open to that possibility. By being compassionate with and accepting of ourselves we are more able to handle the sad feeling and know that it is going to be joined by another feeling and then another. We become aware of the cyclical nature of life
Identify Things that Make You Happy and Create a Memory Bank. - When you feel stressed, anxious, or sad, turn your attention to a positive and uplifting thought or experience. Make an effort to find something new for which you are grateful.
TODAY Show (NBC).
Dr. Atkins is a frequent contributor.
Oct. 16th, 9AM Hour. Topic: Women Stepping Off the Fast Track.
Please check website, www.drdaleatkins.com, for latest updates, including changes of time.
Dr. Atkins comments on breaking news for CNN's HLN. Please check HLNtv.com for updates.
Hearing Loss Association of America - Manhattan Chapter
Sept. 12th: 5:30-8PM. Speaker, How To Address Your Child's Hearing Loss With Your Child, Friends, Family, And The Larger Community.
Weill Cornell Medical College, 1305 York Avenue. NY, NY.
Women's Health Initiative of Greenwich Hospital
Oct. 3rd, 12 - 1:30PM. Speaker, Cultivating Happiness.
Greenwich Hospital Noble Conference Center.
Registration required. Event is FREE. Optional box lunch is available for $10.
To register, call 203-863-4277 or 888-305-9253. Or register online at www.greenwichhospital.org.
Temple Beth Elohim
Oct. 19th, 8PM. Speaker, Living a Balanced Life While Navigating Transitions.
10 Bethel Rd., Wellesley, MA. 781-237-1980.
Volta Voices Cover Story
Connect with Dr. Dale Atkins, written by Susan Boswell. January/February 2012 issue.
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
TC Today Magazine
Dr. Atkins is the focus of Work - Life Balance, written by James Reisler in the December, 2011 issue. A PDF of the article is available on www.drdaleatkins.com.
Topics by Dr. Dale Atkins:
Tips for Getting Along with In-Laws: http://video.about.com/marriage/Tips-for-Getting-Along-With-In-Laws.htm;
Warning Signs of a Troubled Marriage: http://video.about.com/marriage/Warning-Signs-of-a-Troubled-Marriage.htm;
Issues to Deal with before Marriage: http://video.about.com/marriage/Types-of-Issues-to-Deal-With-Before-Getting-Married.htm;
Warning Signs of Cheating Spouse: http://video.about.com/marriage/Warning-Signs-of-Cheating-Spouses.htm;
Tips for Maintaining Interfaith Marriages: http://video.about.com/marriage/Tips-for-Maintaining-Interfaith-Marriages.htm;
Tips for Growing Old Together:
and, Most Important Questions to Ask Before Getting Married: http://video.about.com/marriage/Most-Important-Questions-to-Ask-Before-Getting-Married.htm.
Visit Marlo Thomas' site to access my relationship column and Mondays with Marlo video stream. http://marlothomas.aol.com/search/?q=dale+atkins
Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Therapeutic
Issues with Recipients of Cochlear Implants,"
in the new text, Psychotherapy With Deaf
Clients From Diverse Groups, Second Edition.
Edited by Irene Leigh, and published by
Gallaudet University Press.
Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Family
Involvement and Counseling in Serving
Children Who Possess Impaired Hearing,"
in the new text, Introduction
to Aural Rehabilitation.
Edited by Raymond H. Hull, and published by
I invite you to visit my website to access archives of articles and interviews on line.
My sincere thanks to website developer, Barry Brothers, who, along with Carina Ramirez Cahan, brought vision and positive, creative energy to the site. Do take a look at Barry's work here: http://www.thelimulusgroup.com/bb and consider him for your business, development, design and communication needs.
|Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life
SANITY SAVERS: Tips for Women to
Balanced Life is filled
with suggestions to save
every day of the year.
A must for any woman
seeking to find her balance!
Once again thank you for continuing to read
and talk about Sanity Savers: Tips for
Women to Live a Balanced Life.
WE CAN ALL ADDRESS THE LITERACY
CRISIS IN THIS
COUNTRY. Jumpstart is a national early education nonprofit organization that pairs well-trained, caring adults with underserved preschoolers who live in poverty in year long mentoring relationships. I was honored to be Jumpstart's Read for the Record's National Spokesperson on NBC's Today Show this past Fall and to have moderated a panel of Jumpstart's founders on February 22nd at the Yale Club in NYC. Jumpstart's Scribbles to Novels www.jstart.org/scribblesnyc, event took place on May 8th at Cipriani Wall Street. We were joined by Wes Moore, Tina Fey (who was interviewed by Gayle King) and other acclaimed and entertaining authors who celebrate the written word and support Jumpstart's programming in the tri-state area and around the country.
Please help to spread the word about the mission of Jumpstart and the remarkable strides being made in low income neighborhoods every day. Please, if you can, contribute by clicking on www.jstart.org/donate
www.jstart.org/donate. There is something that every single one of us can do to help those less fortunate. Over one million children live below the poverty level in the U.S. This shameful situation must change. Each of us has a responsibility to repair our world. Let us eliminate the 2-year achievement gap that exists between children from low income and those from middle income neighborhoods when they begin kindergarten!
to learn more about Jumpstart
initiatives - such as Scribbles to
Novels; Playdate With A
Purpose; and Read for the Record.
"The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers."
Thich Nhat Hnah
DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist,
lecturer and commentator in the media who
on the Today show.
She has more than twenty-
years of experience and focuses on living a
life, parenting, aging well, managing stress,
work transitions, family connections and healthy
Dr. Atkins is the author
and/or co-editor of several books including:
Their Private Thoughts about their Private
Families and their Hearing-Impaired
OK, You're My Parents
Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that
Wedding Sanity Savers
Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and
Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect
book . . .
Savers: Tips for Women to
Find out more....
As Seen on the TODAY SHOW!
Wedding Sanity Savers
How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day
You're My Parents
How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger, and Create a Relationship That Works