Archive for December, 2014

Want A Better Year Next Year? Develop The Plan!

Friday, December 26th, 2014

I remember asking our 15 year old daughter, Brittany, if she had plans for the weekend. She said, “Dad, I’m a teenager.  We don’t plan, things change from moment to moment.”

Duh, of course.  Most teenagers don’t plan.

But what about adults?  Unfortunately, most adults don’t plan much either.   The beginning of a new year often inspires a person to make some resolutions.  These good intentions may go as far as planning certain changes.  However, the commitment usually doesn’t last very long and the inspiration withers and falls by the wayside after a short time of trying. Why?

In order to succeed at anything worthwhile you need a PLAN! Is there any area of your life that you might want to change or enhance? Physical and/or Emotional well being, Relationship(s), Finances, Career, Living situation, Spiritual life, Addiction, other?  Please say that there is something here to indicate you are not totally dormant and merely existing.

To develop a plan, you need to introspect, recognize the need and goal, and then create the specific pathways. Then commitment, execution, and accountability need to follow.  Would you be willing to fill in the blanks?  “Yes” would be a good start.

GOAL: I will commit to change or enhance                                                  __________.

METHOD:  I will utilize the following resource(s)                                       __________.

SUPPORT: I will count on these people to help me                                      __________.

TIME FRAME: I will organize my schedule in this manner                         __________.

EVALUATION: I will evaluate regularly my progress                                 __________.

ACCOUNTABILITY: I will do the following to hold myself accountable  __________.

PLEDGE: I will sign here.  My word means something!                              __________.

Since my professional interest is primarily focused on personal growth, marriage and family relationships, and overall emotional well being, I particularly hope that you make this area one of your commitment goals.  There are a number of factors that go into making a person happy and fulfilled.  To feel good about yourself being healthy, to be in a satisfying relationship, and have some form of healthy family as a part of your life are usually at  the top of most peoples’ lives.

May I wish you a Happy 2015 with the hope that you will commit to improving yourself to be the best person you can be and bring that wonderful you to other significant others in your life.

P.S. Brittany is now married with two children. She plans!


“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates


How To Have A Joyful, Not Depressing, Holiday Season!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The holidays are here. They are the most emotional times of the year for most people. How are they going so far for you? How about the rest of the year? Are you feeling joyful or is your spirit lagging and struggling with feelings of depression?

Those of you who read my articles on a regular basis know that I am a strong believer in neuroplasticity, meaning that a person is capable of changing how the brain functions. Emotions are situated in the limbic area of the right brain. By using the left brain thinking and consequent behaviors you can change your mood.

So let’s get going and do our best to have a joyful Christmas. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Set up realistic expectations. Holiday songs, glossy Christmas cards, media advertising, etc… send over the top images of individuals and families joyfully experiencing loving, blissful, connecting experiences. And surely, there are some folks who are able to have that. Most mortals however have some detracting factors that limit this full expression. Thus, it is wise for you to be realistic in what you might experience this year. And, realism can be good! Looking at positive opportunities and making them come to fruition is possible if the effort is made. What could make for the best holiday possible for you? Make it happen!
  2. Don’t try to do too much. Many people exhaust and frustrate themselves by having a too big  “to do” list. They may travel too far to see too many people. They may need to have the perfect Christmas decorations. They may need to buy too many presents for too many people. They may have to do too much cooking. The excessive efforts are depleting and depressing. Make some hard decisions, establish better boundaries, and simplify your holiday agenda. Remember, “less is more”!
  3. Don’t play the compare game. Oftentimes people throw a “pity party” for themselves because their holiday, their family, their life experience, isn’t as good as some other person or family. For one thing what appears on the outside may not be the reality inside. Some people may look very fortunate but in reality may be hurting in ways that are not seen by you. Make the best of what you have and don’t do the compare game, the “pity party” route, or fall into the jealousy trap.  You’re better than that!
  4. Take care of yourself. During the holiday many people slack off their normally healthy life style. They quit exercising, drink and eat too much, and don’t get enough rest. All of this fosters depression. You need to keep up, or begin, that which is healthy so that joy can be experienced.
  5. Make a gratitude list. Many people do not look at, focus on, and appreciate the good in their life. Look around, see some of the people that love and care about you. See the positives in your life.
  6. Develop new traditions. As your life circumstances evolve it may be time to change up some of the usual customary traditions that may be more fitting. Hopefully such changes can ease up on some of the stress you may have from needing to do what you have done in the past.
  7. Give to others. It is difficult to feel depressed when you give to someone and see their glee and appreciation of your efforts.
  8. Realize that you are loveable and the future is bright if you will do all you can to make it happen. Give it your best shot!

Thank you for reading my column and being so nice to tell me that you like them when we meet. It means a lot to me!  I hope these suggestions are helpful.  Happy holiday!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

Holidays Are A Good Time To Know The “History Of God”!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

My office is called the Stathas Life Development Center. It is named that for a reason. It is not simply as counseling/therapy office. I believe in, and am committed to, a total wellness approach in assisting people to reach their full potential and optimal happiness.

Wellness, aka holistic health, involves looking at every dimension of an individual’s life. Areas included are physical, intellectual, psychological, social, relational, and spiritual. Yes, spiritual is included. A person’s spiritual dimension, including beliefs and practices, affect emotions and behavior and impact how a person thinks about and relates to others.

My life’s journey in quest of holistic health and understanding its derivatives has included a spiritual quest. It led me to five years of theological and scriptural study in the seminary and an active ministry for a few years as a “man of God”. This spiritual quest has led to an exhaustive study of how the Bible was formed, the development of various religions over the course of time, and assisting people in finding a spiritual understanding that brings out the best of who they can possibly be.

One of the most enlightening books that I have ever read has been “A HISTORY OF GOD” by Karen Armstrong. It was a number one on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. The research that went into the book was daunting, and a bit exhausting in its depth. But, oh so enlightening!

“A HISTORY OF GOD” traces the evolution of the concept of “God” from the beginning of time through the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In its historical roots it is amazing how much the three religions overlap in some basic concepts related to an understanding of “God”. The book also displays the diversity of belief and understanding over time. “God” has been understood in many forms and fashions over history that has resulted in beliefs, dogmas, and practices that have changed and evolved over the centuries.

A common question that is reached by most readers at the end of this reading is: Has “God” changed over time or have people and cultures over time created the “God” that best fits the times? It is a question worth reflection.

Even over the past couple of hundred years you can see how continued separation of beliefs and worships develop through denominational schisms. A brief peek at each religion.

Christianity has grown in many directions since its inception from the life of Jesus Christ.  Up through the Middle Ages the Church was divided between Catholic and Orthodox. Later, Henry the Eighth was disgruntled with the Catholic Church teachings and wanted to marry again though divorced, thus the Anglican Church. The Episcopal Church is a branch off of it.  Martin Luther didn’t like indulgences, the primacy of the Pope, celibacy etc… so he broke from the Catholic Church and created the Lutheran religion. John Wesley, a disillusioned Anglican priest, co-founded the Methodist Church. The Baptist formation is less clear. Most scholars point to John Smyth who in the 17th century started a Separatist  church breaking off from the Church of England. The Bible in its various books, differing within denominations, is the sacred text.

The Jewish tradition has evolved into separated denominations since its formation in 2000 BC. They are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed. The sacred texts are  the Torah, Tanakh, and Talmud

The Islam religion was founded by Muhammad in the 6th century. Muhammad was the last of the Judao-Christian prophets who was given the “Word of God” when visited by the Archangel Gabriel. The sacred text is the Quran.This religion also has also gone through its own diverse practices as it has spread over the many countries.

The reason for this treatise is to encourage you, Respected Reader, to know the history of the God you may believe in and to see if it continues to meet your intellectual and spiritual needs. Do the particular representatives, tenets, practices, worship services, etc… challenge you to become the best person you can be?  Perhaps your particular enculturated religion has not been reviewed for the beliefs and practices that serve you and your family. This writing in no way is not to advocate any position but to challenge you to know your spiritual history and that of other spiritual perspectives and make a choice that is right for you. Your spirituality is part of a well “developed” human being.

May your holiday reflection result in a loving spiritual presence with those close to your heart!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

What Non Verbal Messages Are You Sending To Your Love Partner?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Various researchers and pundits have speculated that anywhere from 55 to 90 percent of our communication is non verbal. Thus, Respected Reader, you might want to be concerned with the message you are sending non verbally.  Beyond being aware, you may also want to be intentional as to the non verbal message you want to send. The intent of this article is to assist you to be intentional and loving with the messages you send to someone you love.

Winifred M. Reilly, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, has written about this topic and has some suggestions on how you can say “I love you” without saying a word. I will list many of these suggestions and add further commentary. I would like to be able to read your mind as you react to reading these suggestions. Do you find them silly, unimportant, thought provoking, inspiring, etc…? Most of them fit within the categories of gestures of kindness, generosity, attention, and touch.

  1. Do the stuff neither of you wants to do but needs to be done by one of you.
  2. Give your partner some slack when s/he messes up. You are not a parent or judge.
  3. Flirt. It can be fun and bring forth good stuff.
  4. Be patient. Take a few deep breaths and relax when your partner is not “up to speed”.
  5. Pay attention, full on and undivided when something of import in being imparted.
  6. Clean up beyond the call of duty. Not your dirty cup? Who cares? Put it in the dish washer.
  7. Stay present. Don’t run away, physically or emotionally.
  8. Let your guard down. Vulnerability and intimacy are the same thing.
  9. Receive and welcome loving efforts by your partner. Perhaps an acknowledging smile.
  10. Stop a fight in its tracks. Stay calm when your partner is all upset. Don’t escalate.
  11. Leave enough gas in the car, enough hot water for a shower, milk for the coffee.
  12. Initiate a kiss. Hug back. Warm smiles are nice.
  13. Give your partner some space.
  14. Stay in touch. A text here and there saying hi or I’m thinking of you is thoughtful.
  15. Support the dreams and desires of your partner. “Thumbs up”!
  16. Be the first one to reach out after a disagreement . You be the classy one.
  17. Make your relationship your number one priority. Date nights, getaways, keep the fire burning.
  18. Turn off your phone when together unless some significant reasons suggests otherwise.

Respected Reader, do you do some of these? All? Keep it up.  If not, step it up! Your non verbal really does speak loudly to your partner and is an indication of how tuned in and caring you are.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

“Honey, You’re Driving Me Nuts!”

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Couples disagree and argue with each other.  Couples can get quite mad at each other. Research says that the big five of arguments are about money, sex, parenting, in laws, or housework. Had any such arguments?  But there is another level of issues that pull couples apart.  They are the little IRRITATIONS that just drive each other nuts.  Little irritations can cause big disconnections. Petty problems can subvert love surreptitiously. That’s the focus of this article.

Irritations exist in every couple’s relationship. It is not possible to live with another human being whose every quirk, habit, and preference aligns perfectly with yours. The challenge when these irritants  bother you is “figuring out how to negotiate and live with your partner’s irritants in a way that doesn’t alienate them and keeps the two of you connected”, according to psychiatrist John Jacobs.

Each person develops an individuality from genetically influenced temperaments, belief systems, and experiences growing up in the family of origin. Certain patterns of behavior can be deeply rooted and difficult to change.

Irritants can range from superfluous to substantial. Leaving clothes on the floor, eating habits, hygiene preferences, leaving the toilet seat up, snide comments, flirting, not remembering what was said, over-talking or interrupting, chewing gum, talking too much on the telephone, taste in clothes or furnishings, driving too fast or too slow, etc… Add your own.  I’m sure you have a few.

Most of the time a person is not willing, perhaps unable, to change an irritant.  Thus, the only option is for you to change how you think, feel, and react to it. What is the meaning or significance that you attach to the irritant? Do you make it bigger than big? An ice cube becomes and iceberg? Do you get paranoid and think your partner is deliberately trying to annoy you? Do you make the irritant intensely personal such that your partner doesn’t care about you and what you feel? Do you sometimes think that “if you really cared about me you would stop driving me crazy with these habitual irritants”.

Psychologist Michael Cunningham states, “the simple fact is that people engage in automatic behaviors that are habitual or self focused without taking the other person into account.”   Cunningham’s research found that people suppress their irritating behaviors early in the dating process but allow them to emerge once they’re in a committed relationship. Too often people bring their best behavior in the dating process and then after marriage let some things slide. Certainly this is disappointing, and irritating, to the partner who experiences such change in the other.

I encourage you, Respected Reader, to be aware of what irritants your partner perpetuates. If it seems significant to you, address it with your partner.  Perhaps s/he can change the behavior. Perhaps not. How you deal with it is what is most important.  If it truly is just an irritant find a way to live without it becoming a major issue to you that gets you all whacked out.  Perhaps, too, you can examine your own “irritants” that you might want to change. The connected relationship is more important than the irritant. If it is not, then you might well examine the relationship!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates