Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Oct 11, 2013 12:43 pm

What interferes with your ability to be happy?

RE: Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by Erin on Oct 15, 2013 9:11 am

Forgetting to focus on today and thinking too hard about the future and the "what ifs."  I've learned to let go of the past and the fact that my husband was injured.  But now it's hard to not focus on the future and what will happen as we age.  We're only in our early to mid-30s but with a six year old daughter, we need to ensure that no matter what happens, she's always care for especially if something happens to me.  And since my husband is a C4/C5 quad, he gets a lot of care from me and, of course, I worry about caring for him as I age and who will care for me.  I shouldn't focus on these thoughts but when I do, they get in the way of happiness.  I need to learn to find a balance between living now and planning for the future...

RE: Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by Margaret_2153547 on Oct 15, 2013 1:41 pm

At this time, FEAR. When I had my spinal stroke last year at the age of 71, I was maintaining a 40-hour per week job. (I know--I should have retired at age 65, but didn't have any money then either.) Now I'm trying to maintain a townhouse on my Social Security check, plus a bit from my working a few hours per month for my former employer. My Social Security check is just enough to pay my home health aides and nothing else. Eventually what little money I do have is going to run out (a couple of months). So financial insecurity is causing me great fear and stress at this time.

RE: Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by zuzu on Oct 15, 2013 2:39 pm

Me. My obsessive mind.

RE: Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by Steven_2153549 on Oct 15, 2013 2:57 pm


RE: Dr. Dan wants to know ...

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Oct 16, 2013 4:09 pm

Okay, here is a quick and dirty summary of what I just read:

Erin feels she will be happy when she can find a balance in her life; rather than living in the future she would like to plan for the future.

Margaret feels she will be happy when she feels more secure financially

zuzu feels she will be happy when her mind calms down (or perhaps when she gets more control of her thinking)

and Steven feels that he will be happy when he is no longer paralyzed.

Please bear with me as I am oversimplifying and may have missed your points. And regardless, I really hope that you join me Wednesday, November 6 at 3 PM when we will discuss these issues further.

Let me ask all of you a provocative question. What if you never really get balance Erin? What if, Margaret, your finances never get to a point where you can feel financially secure? Zuzu, what if your mind will be more or less obsessive for the next decade or 2 or 3? And Steven, what if you remain paralyzed?

Does that mean none of you will ever be happy?

I've mentioned on these pages before that I spent several years in Al-Anon (a 12 step program for families of alcoholics and substance abusers). I had a family member who only loved and felt responsible for who was out of control. I spent all of my waking time thinking about this person and worrying and trying to figure out the right thing to say or do, always believing that if I did or said something differently, then everything would be okay and I could rest my mind.

In my first meeting, there was an opening statement that included the phrase: "we can be happy whether the alcoholic is drinking or not." I thought these people must have drank the Kool-Aid! You just can't be happy when your loved one is out of control maybe even risking their lives. And yet, I watched these people, many of whom had stories even worse than mine. And yet they were happy. One had a drug addicted daughter who was a single mom to her granddaughter. Another had a husband who couldn't keep a job and was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and continued to drink! And yet they were happy.

Maybe it's back to the opening serenity prayer. You know the one that starts with: "God grant me the serenity…". So they realized they could not control their loved one but they could control their own lives/moods.

But how? And what is this thing called happiness? Is it a permanent way of being or is it an emotion that, like all emotions, doesn't last very long?

My forthcoming book is called "the wisdom we're born with: rediscovering the joy of living". All of us loved life when we were infants and toddlers. We were filled with awe and giggled easily. Where did it go and how do we find it?

Can each of you visualize happiness whether the "thing" changes or not? I encourage you as a first step, to simply tried to visualize experiencing the emotion of happiness despite all of your roadblocks. That's a beginning. And the 2nd step is making a heartfelt commitment to changing the way you define yourself and the way you experience your life.

Let's talk some more about what interferes with happiness and what we can do to manage those roadblocks so that they don't manage us.

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