Archive for August, 2015

21 Habits Of Happy People! Are These Yours?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

“Do you want to be happy for the rest of your life”? There was a song entitled this many years ago. Pretty tacky lyrics but the title represents what most of us strive for. Trouble is, nobody gave us that personalized memo instructing us on how to do that. A number of writers, including me, write about this with some regularity. Most of us need reminders to do some basic things that are in our best interest, so here goes some more tips for you to consider. There is a blogger called mindopenerz (not a typo) that writes some good stuff. I am borrowing his 21 points, while adding my own twist to them. C’mon along and let’s explore and/or be reminded of some good habits for becoming a “happy” person!

  1. APPRECIATE LIFE: Be thankful that you are experiencing another day on the planet. Make the most of each day, seeking out beauty and not “sweating the small stuff”.
  2. CHOOSE FRIENDS WISELY: Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. They help you feel good about yourself and can lend a helping hand when called upon.
  3. BE CONSIDERATE: Accept and respect those with whom you come in contact, yet keeping a boundary from those who may be hurtful.
  4. LEARN CONTINUOUSLY: Keep an active mind, seeking information and activities that keep you vital and help you avoid “hardening of the categories” and stiffening of the joints.
  5. CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING: Don’t throw yourself a “pity party” when challenging obstacles occur. Actively seek out answers and solutions that move you forward. A whole new positive opportunity may emerge.
  6. DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Ideally your day can be spent enjoying what you do, both vocationally and personally. See how you can max out both of these areas.
  7. ENJOY LIFE: Learn to live life in the present, not bemoaning the past or living in fantasy land for the future.
  8. LAUGH: Don’t take life or yourself too seriously. Yes, there are moments to focus on the serious stuff. Look for opportunities to laugh, or at lease ones that put a big ol smile on your face!
  9. FORGIVE: Holding a grudge just stores up negative energy within you. But also, keep some physical and emotional distance from those who have, or might, hurt you. Forgive yourself as well. Guilt is debilitating.
  10. GRATITUDE: Be appreciative of the good people and experiences in your life. Tell those special people how much they mean to you. Don’t wait for the memorial service!
  11. INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS: Nurture and grow quality relationships. Some research says that you are a composite of the five closest persons to you. Choose well!
  12. KEEP YOUR WORD: Integrity is important. Be a trustworthy person whose word means something. “Walk your talk”!
  13. MEDITATE: Not just any type of meditation. Learn a type that calms your brain, healthfully affects your body, and results in a clearer creative mind.
  14. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS: Do not be a “busy body”, rumor monger, gossiper, judger, name caller. It diminishes you and invites others to negatively talk about you behind your back!
  15. OPTIMISM: This is a tough one for a lot of people. Seeing the “glass half full”, expecting good things, steering clear of pessimistic negative thoughts, is a better way to life.
  16. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY: I have a problem with this one. I believe there are conditions that are necessary for you to open your heart unconditionally. Cordiality is fine, love deserves reciprocity.  It is naïve to think otherwise. It is a good way to get hurt. One exception is when your children are young.
  17. PERSISTENCE: Do not give up. “Quitters never win and winners never quit”. If something is worth doing, do it well, and “finish the drill”. Closure has merit. One of my favorite sayings is, “just do the next right thing”.
  18. BE PROACTIVE: This, like optimism is very hard for many. Many people are “wired” to be reactive.  Proactive people create, make happen, what they want.
  19. SELF CARE: Take care of your body, your mind, and find a “spirit” that is positive, loving and helps you transcend the mundane.
  20. SELF CONFIDENCE: Be all that you can be. Know your strengths and bring that self awareness confidence to every situation.
  21. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Take responsibility for your life, your moods, attitudes, thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Another of my favorite sayings is “suit up and show up”.

Respected Reader, you CAN create happiness. Hopefully these reminders will help steer you in that direction. Certainly there are other factors to help you “be happy for the rest of your life”, but add these to your repertoire for now!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

Tips To Effectively Raise Children

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Raising children certainly is not easy. It is challenging, exhausting, frustrating, rewarding, and more! The key to having your children turn out well lies in your doing these things to the best of your ability.

  1. Be involved: Get connected early with your children, bonding well early on, and continuing to be present in their life appropriate for each age level.
  2. Listen well: Hear what they are saying verbally and not saying through their facial expressions and body language. Know their feelings, thoughts, and needs.
  3. Self disclose: Let your children know who you are – what your thoughts, feelings, and experiences are. Be attuned to their interest, or lack thereof, so that you don’t bore them!
  4. Be positive, empathic, and non judgmental: Be a role model by being optimistic, tuned in, and descriptive as you interact with the kids and their behaviors.
  5. Establish expectations and consequences, in concert with your spouse, that are clearly communicated to the kids. Responsibilities are given commensurate with their age and capacity. Appropriate rewards and punishments are to be established, communicated, and followed through.
  6. Be consistent: Structure and consistency give the children a sense of security, even if they don’t appear to want it at a given time.
  7. Look for, see, and verbalize positive feedback to the kids. Positive reinforcement is the best molder of behavior.
  8. Encourage choice making: Start early and give the kids choices that include consequences. This starts the process of empowerment and confidence in kids.
  9. Keep bed time consistent appropriate to the kids’ age.
  10. Have family meetings that encourage the kids to have input with regard to family happenings.
  11. Be a good role model. What you do impacts more that what you say.
  12. Tell your kids everyday that you love them. Lots of hugs!

Certainly there are more parenting tips that could be shared here, but this is a good solid start with some basics. Raising kids is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Much of their future happiness and success depends on the job you do. Do it well!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

What You Need To Know About Raising A Teenager!

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Raising a teenager generally is a special challenge.  I really did not need to say that, did I?  Most of you have raised, are raising, or fearfully anticipating raising a teenager.

The teen years, developmentally speaking, probably are the most complex and difficult of all human growth changes.  Physically, intellectually and emotionally, as well as socially, teenagers are in transition.

A. Bodies are changing.  This presents many awkward moments as teens adjust to new shapes and sizes:

1. Breasts are bursting forth or anxiously awaited, flaunted or faked.

2. Penises are engorged and in need or restraint. Parents, don’t walk into his room unexpectedly!

3. Physical appearance is paramount.  The mirror is worn out. Weight is an issue.

4. Acne is aggravating.

5. Hair: Hair there? Shaving arms, legs, and moustache? What style today?

6. Eyes: Contacts, eye shadow, black eye.

B. Brain and behavior changes:

1. Judgment often becomes flawed:

2. Impulsivity is rampant.

3. Fantasy reins.

4. Anxiety and depression become more pronounced.

5. Macho demonstrations are deployed

6. Flirting is added to the repertoire

7. Lots of drama!

C. Social/academic issues evolve:

1. Peer acceptance or rejection is more important and impactful.

2. Cliques are accentuated and divisive. Nerds, Preppies, Jocks, Goths, etc…

3. “Did you get some?”  “How far to go?” “She’s a ‘ho’”

4. Driving becomes the key to emancipation and license.

5. Drinking and drugging experimentation or habit.

6. Grades often slide.

Parental challenges and opportunities are maximal during this teenage transition time. Important factors include:

A. AWARENESS:  What is going on with our teenager?  What is s/he feeling, thinking, and doing? Who are his/her friends. Are you reading his/her diary or notes left around?

B. PRESENCE: A teenager sends mixed messages; don’t be fooled: “Leave me alone” Where are you? “I hate you!”, “You don’t love me”, You love X more than me”, “Don’t walk near me”, “Come to my event”.  And many more.

C. STRUCTURE: They may argue against it, but they need it, and deep down, they want it.  It gives them security.

D. CONSISTENCY: Don’t vary your rules and expectation or become wishy-washy. You will promote excessive challenges and manipulation.

E. MARRIAGE: Have a good one, if at all possible.  The better your marriage, the better your parenting will be. A good marriage gives teens security and a greater sense of confidence.

F. TIME: Your calendar reflects your priorities.  Be sure that significant time is allocated to your children.  It is good for each spouse to have individual time with each child, if you have more than one kid.  You need to be available when a teen wants to be with you.  There are not a lot of those times, but when they occur, they are important.

G. GOAL: Keep the goal in mind at all times, trying as they may be. You are the parent and have the responsibility to help your “tweenager” make a successful transition from being a child to being a wonderful adult – like you are!!

The above commentary and advice comes from personal and clinical experience.  I have enjoyed working with teenagers in my practice and have enjoyed, most of the time, parenting our two kids during the teenage transition time.  I am grateful that the effort that my wife Sherry and I expended has resulted in two incredible young adults! Hopefully, you are, or will be as fortunate.  If I can be of assistance, I would welcome the challenge!

Parents: Constructive Discipline For Your Kids!

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I have taught many parent classes over the years and have talked about the topic of child discipline in these classes as well as in counseling sessions with parents. There are many ideas and practices related to disciplining kids for various infractions of parental or societal rules. Discipline, or punishment, can take many forms as parents try to teach their children to behave well.

Most parents have good intentions while parenting kids. However some of their methods are dubious at best. Those that choose certain unhealthy practices will argue that their parents did such and such and they “turned out okay”. These less than desirable practices would include yelling and screaming, hitting/spanking, and grounding or taking things away for inordinate periods of time. (I know you spankers will disagree with me here, but if you looked at the research as to outcomes, you might be persuaded differently). These various dubious practices are based on fear, scare the hell out of the kid. This will work for a short time while the child is very young. Later s/he will resent you and that form of discipline.

More constructive forms of discipline would be to calmly explain to the child that these rules/expectations, which have previously been explained, have consequences when violated. Depending on the age of the child such consequences might include time out, taking away some game or experience for a reasonable period of time. And then there is grounding. The child will not go away from the home for personal reasons until … ?

Speaking of grounding, I recently saw the following on the internet. It’s a great strategy, positive, constructive, and helpful to the parents. It is entitled

“Congratulations! You Got Grounded!! To get ungrounded you must earn 500 points”

Write a nice letter to someone in the family (10 points)

Write a nice letter to a neighbor (10 points)

Help a neighbor with homework (20 points)

Prepare and cook dinner (50 points)

One load of laundry (wash, dry, fold, and put away) (100 points)

Clean and organize a kitchen cupboard (50 points per cupboard)

Empty dishwasher (25 points)

Clean and wash off table (25 points)

Clean and wash off counters (25 points)

Wash kitchen chairs (25 points)

Clean out microwave (40 points)

Take out garbage and re-bag (10 points)

Scrub bathroom sink (10 points)

Take out bathroom trash (10 points)

Clean toilets (50 points)

Water plants (25 points)

Clean and vacuum living room (30 points)

Dust living room (50 points)

Wash windows in living room and kitchen (50 points)

Sweep and mop kitchen floor (25 points)

I heartily endorse this type of child discipline. Needless to say this one is applicable for a certain age group. I see it as a prototype that can be modified to any particular age group with appropriate points allotted. Yes, it involves a little thinking, planning, communicating, evaluating and being accountable. Is that too much to ask? It sure beats the negative style as described above. Hope you give it a try. Your children may not like this style but they will learn from it – and make the parents’ work load easier!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates