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Are You Bummed Out???Or Depressed?

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on July 27, 2016 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Could your sadness be something more serious? Take this quiz from Prevention and find out.


How Good Are Your Communication Skills?

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on May 19, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Take this quiz to see how good are your communication skills...

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10 Hidden Stressors Lurking in Your Workplace

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on February 19, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Stress is bad for your health. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Just bad.


The problem is you can't always help it. Your employees can't always help it either. Some situations--especially at work--are just plain stressful.


It can be especially difficult to manage workplace stress when you're not exactly sure of the cause. In some situations, work can feel much more stressful than in similar situations. But what's causing that elevated stress level?

Take a look at your office environment. There are probably a few unknown stressors hidden there somewhere. Here are ten hidden stressors you might not have noticed before. Tackling these problems can help to create a much calmer environment that's conducive to more efficient work.


The Layout

Office spaces need to flow. Each space is going to be different, but they all need to be logical. Take a look at where you have each department situated and where common areas are located. Can people who need to work together access each other quickly and easily? Is the breakroom in a central area? These are all things to consider for a stress-free office layout.

The Copier (and other shared office equipment)

Major, shared office equipment can be stressful for a few different reasons. If it's difficult to use, placed in an illogical location, or is unreliable, it can be a huge hidden stressor. It's important to invest in equipment that works, and make that equipment easy to access. It's not your employees' jobs to fix (or find) the copier. Removing that barrier will allow them to focus more completely on their work without extra worries.


The Bathroom

Bathrooms should be clean. It's as simple as that. No matter the size of your business, cleaning the bathroom needs to be made a priority. A messy bathroom is uncomfortable and adds stress that has absolutely nothing to do with actual job duties.

The Breakroom

This room also needs to be clean for the same reasons as the bathroom. Outside of that, there needs to be a system that governs the breakroom. It's important to know who refills the coffee (and how to refill the coffee), who to report to when items are out of stock, and how to label food so it won't get stolen out of the fridge.


The Chairs

Poor posture can lead to back pain and overall discomfort. Discomfort can lead to irritability and stress. If employees are confined to one desk space for most of the day, make it as comfortable for them as possible. Try to find quality chairs that are adjustable to different body types and sitting styles.


The Wi-Fi

For a lot of people, the Internet is a vital tool for getting work done. If it's spotty or slow, employees can't work as efficiently as they'd like and can become frustrated with the problems they face due to bad Internet connection. Finding quality Wi-Fi is largely dependent on where you're located, as well as the work you do in your office. Consult with a professional to be sure your system can handle the work that needs to be done.


The Conference Room

If many stressful meetings happen in the conference room, consider switching things up. After a lot of repetition, people can begin to associate places with certain feelings--even if it doesn't apply to every single situation. You don't want the conference room to become a place your employees dread going. Mix up meeting locations, and even throw in walking meetings if the group is small enough.


The Windows (or lack thereof)

Natural lighting in a workplace is an automatic soother. It's excellent for maintaining strong mental health. There's not a lot you can do if you building structurally doesn't have a lot of window space to work with. Try to take full advantage of the windows you do have to maximize their effect in the office. You can also fake natural light in certain situations by painting and decorating with soothing colors, and opting for more natural looking light bulbs.


The Inbox

Email inboxes can get incredibly cluttered. Simply knowing that your inbox has gone unmanaged can make you subconsciously feel stressed. One way to address this issue is to encourage your employees to avoid filling each other's inboxes. If things can be dealt with face-to-face or even over of the phone, that is always a better option.



Bosses and coworkers can be the most stressful part of a workplace environment. I know you don't intentionally stress out your employees. But I'm guessing you don't intentionally seek to relieve their stress either. Try to create a positive environment and support system for your employees. Seek to empower them rather than demanding the impossible from them. All of this can be nurtured by positive messaging and clear communication.


Ultimately, an office environment will always be associated with some level of stress. It's probably not feasible to eliminate stress altogether. But it is important to be sure all stress is associated with a legitimate task or stressor. Don't let unknown and unnecessary stressors mess with your employees' minds.


What other stressors have you addressed at your workplace?

7 Tips for Breaking Your Addiction to Sugar

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on February 19, 2016 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Sugar is an often invisible, but ever-present part of American life. It’s in cookies, candy, soda pop and pastries, but it’s also present in surprising amounts in other foods — spaghetti sauce, catsup, salad dressing, soups, yogurt, coffee drinks, sports drinks and juice, cereals and protein bars, for instance.


How much sugar is too much?


Many people can take sugar or leave it, but some are really hooked despite mounting evidence of its role in serious health problems, including cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, even in people of normal weight.


Many scientists consider sugar a serious health hazard. Two physicians, writing in the New York Times, urge health policy officials to require label warnings and taxes like those on alcohol and tobacco, writing: “If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed.”


Most American adults eat about 22 teaspoons worth of added sugars a day, the American Heart Association says. Its advice is to limit added sugar, both from the sugar bowl and as ingredients in foods you cook or buy, to:


6 teaspoons (100 calories) per day for women.

9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men.

The association offers tips for cutting back and help identifying how much sugar is in foods. The tips — like substituting alternative sweeteners, using less sugar in baking, tossing out the sugar bowl and giving up soda pop — are useful. But they don’t get to the heart of what makes sugar so addictive.


What works


Dr. David Ludwig is a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and has spent a career treating, researching and writing about adult and childhood obesity. In his recent book, “Always Hungry: Conquer Your Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently,” he recommends a high-fat, low-carb food plan that includes dropping, at least for a time, sugar, potatoes and highly refined carbohydrates.


Low-carb weight-loss diets like The Zone, the Atkins Diet and paleo diets have been around for decades. Ludwig’s is a less-restrictive low-carb plan. It includes fresh fruit and, after a two-week kickoff, whole grains and starchy vegetables.


Most weight-loss programs, however, regard all foods as equal when it comes to weight loss and so they are based on eating fewer calories than you burn.


Ludwig says that’s an outdated approach. Whether controlling sugar intake or losing weight, research shows that sugar, potatoes and highly refined carbohydrates alter the body’s chemistry, creating cravings and causing cells to store fat, he says.


Willpower can work in the short term, but old habits and cravings usually regain the upper hand, causing dieters to regain weight and sugar addicts to backslide. What’s required, he says, is making friends with your body’s metabolism to interrupt the cycle.


Here are seven tips to break the chains of your unhealthy relationship to sugar:


1. Change your metabolism


Fat doesn’t make us fat, he says. Rather, sugars and carbs do that by triggering a flood of insulin, a hormone that turns fat cells on and off. High insulin levels in the blood stream tell fat cells to pile on fat and store it. Lowering your insulin lets your fat cells release fat, suppressing appetite and cravings and shedding body fat.


Sugar can trigger addictive responses, Ludwig says. It hijacks the brain’s pleasure and reward systems, producing intense, addiction-like cravings. Potatoes and highly processed carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta and refined cereals and snack foods have similar effects: They digest quickly into sugar, raising insulin, calorie for calorie, more than any other food.


Ludwig’s research lab scanned the brains of overweight young men four hours after they’d drunk milkshakes sweetened with corn syrup and found that the drinks activated their nucleus accumbens, the brain center stimulated by addictive substances like heroin, cocaine and alcohol.


To loosen sugar’s grip, Ludwig advises replacing it and high-carb foods with fats to satisfy hunger and quell cravings. Get the fat from nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, unsaturated oils, whole-fat (unsweetened) dairy products and — for a treat — dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form).


Saturated fat raises the body’s LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, Ludwig acknowledges. However, “it also potently raises HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, so the all-important overall ratio of bad to good cholesterol remains largely unchanged. And unlike carbohydrate, saturated fat lowers triglycerides, another important risk factor.”


2. Avoid trans fat


Stay away from even small amounts of one type of fat: trans fat. Read labels and avoid foods with “partially hydrogenated oil,” an industrial oil made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil to make it harden. It’s common in fast food, fried food and commercially made cakes, cookies, crackers and snacks, including some microwave popcorn. Even small amounts add up, so try to avoid eating it at all. For more detail on the subject, and what products to avoid, check out:


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2015 determination that trans fats is unsafe in food

Center for Science in the Public Interest on trans fat, and if you are brave, move on to its “Trans Fat Wall of Shame” on Pinterest

3. Avoid artificial sweeteners


Artificial sweeteners make it hard to quit sugar as they keep your sweet tooth active, depriving you of the chance to let go the cycle of cravings and taste the subtler natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables. Try cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to highlight sweetness in some fruits, tubers, squashes and even meats.


4. Avoid low-fat and nonfat foods


When food manufacturers take out the fat they typically add sugar. One example:


Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread has 12 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar.

Jif Regular Peanut Butter has 16 grams of fat and 3 grams of sugar.

5. Move


Exercise alone has been largely discredited as a weight-loss tool. “Physical activity is crucially important for improving overall health and fitness levels, but there is limited evidence to suggest that it can blunt the surge in obesity,” says the International Journal of Epidemiology, and researchers found that members of a hunter-gatherer tribe burn roughly as many calories as the typical city dweller despite their vastly different levels of activity, according to a report in the New York Times.


But there are many other reasons to move, among them reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Exercise boosts your sense of vitality and vigor. It replenishes your sense of well-being and pride.


6. Get enough quality sleep


When you’re weary and pushing too hard you’re vulnerable to setbacks and emotional eating. Treat yourself with special care and give yourself credit when you’re giving up the undeniable pleasure of sugar. Take a warm bath before bed, read a good book, indulge in a cup of (unsweetened) herbal tea, get a massage and get plenty of healing rest.


7. Get the lowdown on sugar


Learn more about sugar and its effect on health:


The USDA’s post on Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweetener Resources has details, links and research on sugar. and sweeteners, from honey, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup and agave to aspartame, stevia and sucralose.

13 Tips to Make a Good Relationship

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on August 27, 2015 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

1. Do the things you did the first year you were dating - Keeping it fresh!


As the months and years go on, we tend to slink into our proverbial sweatpants and get lazy in our relationship. We lose our patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness, understanding and the general effort we once made toward our partner. Think back to the first year of your relationship and write down all the things you used to do for your partner.  Start doing them again.


2. Ask for what you want - Don't assume


Over time, we assume that our partner knows us so well that we don’t need to ask for what we want. What happens when we make this assumption? Expectations are set and just as quickly, they get deflated. Those unmet expectations can leave us questioning the viability of our partnership and connection. Keep in mind that “asking for what you want” extends to everything from emotional to sexual wants.


3. Become an expert on your partner


Think about who your partner really is and what excites him or her (both physically and emotionally). Don't be consumed by what WE THINK he/she wants, as opposed to tuning in to what truly resonates with the other person. Remember that if it’s important to your partner, it doesn’t have to make sense to you. You just have to do it.


4. Don't ask "how was your day."


At the end of a long day, we tend to mentally check out of our lives and consequently, our relationship. We rely on the standard question, “How was your day?” Generally, that boring question will yield a boring answer such as, “Fine, how was yours?” This does nothing to improve your connection and instead, can actually damage it because you're losing the opportunity to regularly connect in a small way.


Instead, try asking things like, “What made you smile today?” or “What was the most challenging part of your day?” You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll get, with the added benefit of gaining greater insight into your significant other.


5. Create a weekly ritual to check in with one another.


It can be short or long but it begins with asking each other what worked and didn’t work about the previous week and what can be done to improve things this coming week. Additionally, use this opportunity to get on the same page with your schedules, plan a date night and talk about what you would like to see happen in the coming days, weeks, and months in your relationship. Without an intentional appointment to do a temperature check, unmet needs and resentments can build.


6. Keep it sexy.


What might change in your relationship if both you and your partner committed to increasing the behaviors you each find sexy and limiting those that aren’t? Think about this in the broadest form. “Sexy” can certainly refer to bedroom preferences, but it also represents what excites us about our mate in our day-to-day lives. Do you find it sexy if he/she helps with the housework? Do you find it "unsexy" when he/she uses the restroom with the door wide open? Talk about what it specifically means to "keep it sexy" in your relationship. Be amazed, be humored, be inspired!


7. Get creative about the time you spend together.


Break out of the “dinner and a movie” routine and watch how a little novelty can truly rejuvenate your relationship. On a budget and can’t go big? Jump on the internet to look for “cheap date ideas” and be blown away at the plethora of options. Can’t afford a sitter? Try swapping babysitting time with friends that have kids. It’s free and they will likely be thrilled to take your kids because they will get to take advantage when they drop their kids at your place.


8. Get it on.


Unless you have committed to an asexual partnership, sex, sexual contact and touching (kissing, holding hands, cuddling etc.) are vital components of a romantic relationship. The frequency is of course, up to you and it's imperative that you discuss your ideas about it in order to prevent resentment. Rare are the moments when both partners are “in the mood” at the exact same second, but that doesn’t mean that you have to decline their advances. Remind yourself that you will almost always “get there” after the first few minutes and that an intimate interaction of any kind builds connection and elevates your mood and health. Bear in mind that you are never required to say “yes.” If you truly don’t feel it, the best thing you can do is to postpone. Just make sure that you initiate or accept within a reasonable amount of time thereafter.


9. Take a (mental) vacation, everyday.


Life and work distractions can become paramount in our minds and that leaves little time or energy for our partner. Practice the art of “Wearing the Relationship Hat.” This means that (barring any emergencies or deadlines), we are fully present when we're with our mate. We truly hear what they are saying (instead of pretending to listen), we leave our distractions behind and we don’t pick them up again until the sun comes up and we walk out the door.


Some tips to improve communication


Sadly, we aren’t born with the innate ability to effectively communicate but it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn. Use the following techniques to better navigate and limit the tension in your relationship:


10. Take "fight breaks" when you need them.


Before you’ve hit the point of no return and as you see the stress beginning to escalate, one or both of you can call a break so that cooler heads can prevail. The crux of this tool lies in the fact that you must pick a specific time to revisit the conversation (I.e. 10 minutes from now, 2:00pm on Tuesday etc.) so that closure can be achieved.


11. Dig deep to unearth your true feelings.


In most disagreements, we communicate from the “Top Layer,” which are the obvious emotions such as anger, annoyance and the like. Leading from this place can create confusion, defensiveness and ultimately distract from the real issue. Start communicating from the “Bottom Layer” (i.e. What feelings are really driving your reactions such as disappointment, rejection, loneliness, disrespect etc.).


This type of expression creates an instant sense of empathy because it requires honesty and vulnerability to share from this space. Tension will dissipate and from here, solutions can spring. Just be sure to use kind, non-reactive phrasing when expressing these bottom layer feelings, such as “I felt hurt by…” as a replacement for “You’re such a jerk” etc.


12. Seek to understand ... not agree.


Easy in concept, difficult in application. Conversations quickly turn to arguments when we're invested in hearing our partner admit that we were right or when we are intent on changing his/her opinion. Choose to approach a conversation as an opportunity to understand your significant other’s perspective as opposed to waiting for them to concede. From this perspective, we have an interesting dialogue and prevent a blow out or lingering frustration.


13. Make your apology count.


It’s well understood that apologizing is a good thing but it only makes a real impact when you mean it. Saying things like “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you see it that way” are a waste of time and breath. Even if you don’t agree that your action was wrong, you will never successfully argue a feeling.


Accept that your mate feels hurt and from this place, a real apology can have a significant impact. When you love your partner and hurt them (intentionally or not) you can always legitimately apologize for the pain you caused regardless of your perspective on what you did or didn’t do.



Four Ways to Deal with Stress

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 22, 2015 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)
Four Ways to Deal with Stress
(From the American Heart Association)

Here are four simple techniques for managing stress:


Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is one way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but usually we keep self-talk in our heads. Self-talk can be positive ("I can do this" or "Things will work out") or negative ("I'll never get well" or "I'm so stupid").

Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.


For example:



Negative                                                      Positive

"I can't do this."                                           "I'll do the best I can."

"Everything is going wrong."                    "I can handle things if I take one step at a time."

"I hate it when this happens."                    "I know how to deal with this; I've done it before."


To help you feel better, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts.

Having trouble getting started? Try positive statements such as these:


"I've got this."

"I can get help if I need it."

"We can work it out."

"I won't let this problem get me down."

"Things could be worse."

"I'm human, and we all make mistakes."

"Some day I'll laugh about this."

"I can deal with this situation."


Remember: Positive self-talk helps you relieve stress and deal with the situations that cause you stress.

Emergency Stress Stoppers

There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road and in public places. We may feel stress because of poor communication, too much work and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot.


Try these emergency stress stoppers. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them.

Count to 10 before you speak.

Take three to five deep breaths.

Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you'll handle it later.

Go for a walk.

Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake.

Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late.

Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once.

Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.

Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.

Consider meditation or prayer to break the negative cycle.

Finding Pleasure

When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress.


You don't have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you're ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend or reading a good book.


Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.


Such as:

Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint with grandchildren).

Take up a hobby, new or old.

Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper.

Have coffee or a meal with friends.

Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl.

Sew, knit or crochet.

Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.

Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.

Make a list of everything you still want to do in life.

Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.

Take a class at your local college.

Play cards or board games with family and friends.

Daily Relaxation

Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements) and meditation.


Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills.


Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home using the following steps. It's a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With daily practice, you will soon be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress.

Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes.

Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you're lying on the beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind.

Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.

Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.

Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.


10 Habits of Couples in Strong and Healthy Relationships

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 22, 2015 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

10 Habits of Couples in Strong and Healthy Relationships

What makes for a healthy romantic relationship differs from couple to couple. Forming a trusting and positive partnership takes effort and time. And unfortunately, it doesn’t just happen overnight. For any relationship to grow strong and stay strong, you need to put in some work. Below are some habits that will create and maintain a happy and healthy twosome.




Communication is key. It is one of the most important qualities in keeping a healthy relationship. However, not everyone knows how to communicate properly, or even communicate at all. Happy and healthy couples have their communication game down. They communicate the good. They vocalize their love for one another, saying “I love you” often and offering compliments to their partner. They also discuss the bad, instead of sweeping issues under the rug. In order to move forward and grow as a couple, you two need to be able to truly talk about your feelings. No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, it will make for a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship.



Aretha Franklin sang a whole song about it, so you know it’s got to be important. Respecting your partner comes in many forms. Maintaining a joyful relationship means respecting your partner’s time, heart, character, and trust. However, there are many things people do in relationships that can break down respect between one another. Some of these include name-calling, talking negatively about the other to friends or family, and/or threatening to leave the relationship.


Quality Time, Not Quantity


It’s all about quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important part is about the quality of this time. There’s a huge difference between having dinner at a table while talking about your day at work, versus having dinner while sitting on a couch watching the latest episode of The Voice. It’s fine to zone out together and enjoy distractions, but it’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection.


Time Apart


Spending time together with your partner is important. But just as important is spending time apart. Being able to do your own things and remain independent is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy codependent relationship. Maintaining healthy boundaries and some autonomy will make for a long-lasting partnership.


Love Languages


Gary Chapman created the notion that men and women have five love languages. The concept is that people have unique ways of feeling loved. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. It’s important to know what love language speaks to you, along with your partner’s, and they might be different. Telling each other what makes you feel loved and special helps both of you stay connected. Furthermore, make sure you are attending to your partner’s love language consistently.



Often, we forget to let other people in our lives know that we appreciate them. We think it, but we don’t remember to show it. This occurs in our romantic relationships as well. Show your special someone that you love him or her. This could be done by words, cards, flowers, acts of kindness, or more. Remember, a flower a day keeps the relationship fights at bay. Okay, maybe not every day, but you get the point.


Positive Vs. Negative


Sometimes we get caught up in the negative. We hate our jobs, are annoyed with our friends and our boyfriend or girlfriend is getting on our last nerve. Uh oh, have we been drinking too much of that half empty glass? It’s vital that we look at our partner’s positive qualities versus the negative. Nobody is perfect, and that includes our significant other. So instead of focusing on the bad in the other person, let’s make a conscious effort to look at the good.


Pick and Choose Your Battles

There are arguments to be had in every relationship. It’s crucial to bring issues to the forefront and work through the hard times together. However, I don’t think arguing over your girlfriend using your favorite coffee cup should be one of those. You don’t want to be the girl who cried “argument,” do you? Pick and chose your battles wisely, because people in happy and healthy relationships do.



Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s also talk about how important it is in cultivating a flourishing relationship. Sex is simple. The more you have it, the more you want it. The other side of that is true as well. The less you have it, the less you want it. And, unfortunately, the less you feel connected to your partner will follow. Keep your sex life alive and interesting. “Spicing it up” is not just meant for the kitchen.


No Comparisons

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Or even if it is, it might not be the kind of grass you would even like. We often compare our lives to others — what jobs people have, their homes, or their clothes. And with the help of social media, we tend to compare our relationships as well. But the happiest of couples don’t look to see what the grass looks like on the other side. They are happy with the view out their own front door.

Don't Let the Outside World Control Your Happiness

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 14, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

“On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.” ~Eckhart Tolle


We have this strange need or conditioning to not take responsibility for our own happiness. We expect it to come from an outside source.


It can happen, but it’s fleeting. True happiness has to come from within.


True happiness comes from a connection to our true being.


Years ago my family and I took our dog to obedience school, and the trainer told us, if we have more than one dog, to never let them share a crate. Yes, they would become best friends, even inseparable. Then one of them would die and the other would be completely heartbroken.


Imagine putting all your happiness on another person. This could be a friend or a soul mate. You share your dreams, relying on each other for companionship and future plans. Then tragedy happens, a split of some kind.


It’s natural to be heartbroken when you lose someone you love—but how could you survive this if all your happiness was contained in this one person?


This same thing can happen with the material world. We easily put our happiness on getting that prized possession, the big house, the new car, or a job that we think we want.


I spent most of my life up until now in the shadow of fleeting happiness. It followed me everywhere.


It started when I was young. I searched for acceptance. I did ridiculous things to my hair, and I lost my virginity way too young. I thought these things would bring me a sense of happiness, but I never felt truly happy.


Then my young adult self emerged still on the search for “when.” When I get to do this… when I go here… when I do that… then I will finally be happy.


I spent my days waiting for various things to happen, to in turn bring me the happiness I longed for.


I married young. I moved to a city that wasn’t conducive to my nature. I got the corporate job that would make me feel established, following society’s definition of success.


With two young kids I moved to a way too expensive house that fit the mold of a successful, acceptable young adult. And—gasp—I bought a minivan. I was a mom, after all. Wasn’t this my road to happiness?


With all these misguided beliefs of happiness under my belt, the waves of discontent still threatened to drown me. I kept treading water with no movement.


I realized in time the truth behind my happiness, and it didn’t lie in things or people or society’s definitions. I had always had the ability to feel happy; I just hadn’t realized it.


I realized it when I was able to accept myself, fully, in who I was.


I realized I didn’t need to edit who I was. I was able to look in the mirror and see the perfectness in all my imperfections. I was able to go to a social event and be okay with myself sitting quietly in the corner. I learned to just be without worry or concern about what others thought. I was okay just being me.


I would often find myself sitting quietly, taking it all in. These were the mindful moments that allowed me to acknowledge all that was around me. And you know what? It was full.


The world was full of the richness of life—nature, people, laughter, smiles, wind, noise, and breath. I started to notice my breath and breathe a little deeper in gratitude for all the experiences of my life. The realization came with a flood of tears, joy, and intense connection…with myself.


We believe in a happiness that really doesn’t exist. We search for it in many ways, rarely finding it in the form we are seeking.


Happiness can sometimes comes from things. “When I get this car, or these shoes, or this job, man, will I be happy.” And you do, you get the position and you drive to your new job in your new car with your shiny new shoes on.


The world is oh so perfect. It couldn’t get any better. Then the company you work for goes bankrupt, you can no longer afford your car, and now you have no place to wear your shoes.


Are you happy anymore? Not if you banked all your happiness in those fleeting things.


But let’s say you already discovered true happiness from deep within your soul and felt happy with yourself. Then you got your dream job. Would you be happier?


You might feel more fulfilled but not happier, because your inner happiness was already infinite. If you lost your job, would some of your happiness diminish? No. You might feel disappointed but you wouldn’t lose your happiness because it was already infinite.


Your happiness cannot come from the outside world. It must come from within you.


When you are able to acknowledge that happiness already resides in you, a pressure will release because you’ll no longer feel ruled by your ego’s need for more.


It is important to know that true happiness may not always feel great. Realizing true happiness doesn’t mean you will be skipping through a field of daisies without a care in the world.


You will have bad days. You will feel overwhelmed with normal life at times. You may even look beyond the horizon to see what lies ahead. This is all okay.


Happiness doesn’t have to look like a storybook. Happiness is simply the realization that life is just fine as it is.


You’ll experience true happiness when you allow yourself to be content in your true self, recognize the innate greatness of the world that surrounds you, and know that the people and things in your life hold no power over you. You are the master of your happiness.


You are already complete. When you realize this, there will be happiness in everything you do.