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Personal growth: Moods, perceptions, and problem-solving May 24, 2017

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Overcoming Fear.
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By Dennis Mellersh

Most of us have been in the paradoxical situation in which a nagging problem that has been causing us misery and anxiety yesterday, or for a number of yesterdays, does not seem so worrisome today.

This, despite the fact that our circumstances today are identical to our circumstances yesterday.

Our problem or worrisome situation, has not gone away, but somehow our mood or our attitude to the problem seems more optimistic, so our misery and anxiety about the problem has largely gone away.

In a lighter mood

We don’t have an immediate solution to the problem, but we are now in a lighter mood, even perhaps a happy mood in which we can see that there are possibilities of solving the problem.

So clearly then, our happiness, or mood, does not depend on our circumstances.

So, wouldn’t it be great if we could, no matter what our circumstances might be, to be able to simply command our brain and our “anxiety centre” to switch to a happy, positive, “I can handle this” mode.

But alas, no such instant-acting brain-switch exists. Or, at least I haven’t found one yet.

Moods change perception

However, as Dr. Richard Carlson notes, “Circumstances are always neutral. If they were the cause of our problems, they would always affect us in the same way, which, of course, they don’t. It’s our thinking and perceptions about our circumstances that brings life to them.”

The perception of our problems is therefore mood-related.

So, although we need to work toward solutions to reality-based problems, in order to be better able to solve them, we need to realize that “feeling good comes first. Solving the problem comes later.”

Yes, but aside from studying Buddhism for ten years, how do we do that?

A possible solution

Richard Carlson takes an entire book (1) to fully explain all the details of how to accomplish this, but here’s one of the solutions he offers that we can start working on right now.

We can make an effort to move our focus away from the problem, because, as Carlson notes, “If circumstances seem hopeless, dwelling on them won’t help.”

Not focusing on the problem takes away the energy the problem needs to grow in our minds; with the problem growing in our minds it makes the problem seem worse.

“We do this not to avoid facing the problems but to make room for solutions to grow,” Carlson says.

(1) Dr. Richard Carlson, You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles Your Therapist Never Told You, New World Library, Novato, California, 1997

Personal growth: Making your creative talent accessible May 10, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal growth, Overcoming Fear.
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If you are planning to include an imaginative component in your self-improvement program, such as creative writing, you may want to consider “going public” with your output, rather than keeping your originality to yourself.

If your creative talent (writing, painting, or other artistic pursuit) is something that you want to engage in primarily for personal therapeutic purposes (as with journaling, for example) there can be valid reasons why you don’t want the public to see your work.

However if you are seeking greater self-actualization or self-realization through your creative talent and feel you have “something to say” that other people could benefit from, then reaching a larger public could be helpful to both you and your audience. Showing other people your creative work can be part of your process of individuation.

Until relatively recently however reaching a public market in the creative sphere was largely controlled by gatekeepers in the “art world” and the publishing industry, to give two examples.

Now however, with free platforms for expressing your creativity, such as wordpress.com, you can have a blog to publish and distribute your creative content.

This does take some courage, however, and a willingness to accept whatever the public reaction might be to your work. But the effort to reach an audience with your originality could ultimately be inwardly rewarding and thereby be a significant accomplishment in your personal growth program

There is an old aphorism that there is nothing sadder than for a person to go through their entire life not letting their talents shine, and then “dying with their music still inside them.”

This is essentially what happened with the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) who, for various reasons, kept the vast majority of her 1,800 poems hidden in her bedroom. Only a handful of her poems were published during her lifetime. The remainder were published after her death.

So, she never got the satisfaction of reaching the public with her originality, nor could the public at that time benefit from her creative efforts. Dickinson is now recognized as one of America’s most outstanding and unique poetic voices