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Renew Your Attitude Daily

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz would tell his players, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Victor Frankl, survivor of a Nazi prison camp and beacon of light for hundreds of other prisoners suffering under Hitler’s Third Reich wrote, “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Isn’t it amazing that a football coach and prisoner of war are saying the same thing — that it’s not our circumstances that hold us back, but rather that attitudes we display in our circumstances?  We all know people who delight in laughing at the cockeyed optimist — the one who always seems to be happy and on top of things, the person who has a bumper sticker on her car that declares, “Business is great, the sky is blue, and people are wonderful.”  But what’s wrong with this?

A life of cynical pessimism is a poor second choice and does nothing but drive us deeper into sadness and depression, making us weaker, not stronger, and ultimately setting us up for emotional exhaustion.  Oscar Wilde said a pessimist is one who, when confronted with the choice of two evils, chooses both.  Bad way to live.

On the other hand, a spirit of optimism is life-giving.  People who are upbeat regardless of their physical or emotional circumstances look for the good, just as bees gravitate to the center of a flower for their honey-making resource.  But it’s not a onetime flyby.  The bees in your garden need to fly back to gather the pollen from the flower again and again, through daily action.  It’s the only way we can keep them positive, vibrant, and alive.

Without a regular renewal of our attitudes, we will remain stagnant and uninteresting, and we will be able to offer little to those who need us most.  It’s just not possible to win at life and relationships with a self-defeating, unrenewed, boring, business-as-usual attitude.  That’s why the real attitude winners are the ones who:

  • Provide valuable service to others before thinking of their own needs
  • When discouraged, dig deep to the source of their faith and confidence
  • When trapped in a tunnel of misfortune, believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel
  • When roadblocked by poor decisions, remember that God is still in control and that no failure is ever final
  • Know that the greatest degrees one can earn are not academic but degrees of growth, persistence, and compassion for others

Be disciplined to review your attitudes and look to renew them on a daily basis.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

Traits and States

We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this country.  We hear it everywhere we go. “Happiness” is often portrayed as the epitome of life, the ultimate, and often only, goal for which we are encouraged to strive.  If one is not happy, one begins to feel something is amiss. Ever been there? Is there a difference between a “trait” and a “state”?

The truth is, to make this one’s soul focus is generally self-defeating and often, the surest way not to find it. Why this irony?

Happiness is an emotion.  Emotions are a biological “signal system” that connects brain and body. By their very nature, they are transient and circumstance-dependent.  One way to think of emotions is as a state (or state-of-being). States can change in an instant.  Remember that time you were excited and wanted to tell someone only to meet a person you care for who was “down in the dumps”? What happened to your excitement?  At least momentarily, it slipped away, instantly replaced with concern, sadness, anger, or any number of other “emotional states”.

A trait, on the other hand, is more enduring.  When describing a state, one might say, “She is sad.”  However, if it was a trait, we would hear, “She is a sad person.”  Those seeking professional depression treatment often feel as though their trait is living in a continual state of sadness or numbness.

One way to think of it is to call the temporary state, “happiness” and the enduring trait, “joy” – just for ease of communication.

A lasting outlook that would empower joy in your life might require

  • Perspective – How does the current situation fit into the big picture? Even if this moment is difficult – if you can see it serves a purpose and will lead to health and wholeness, an underlying feeling of contentment, peace, and enthusiasm can remain.
  • Perseverance – Remember that childhood adage, “When at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”?  This is a fundamental and profound truth that is all too often overlooked. In fact, in our present world, giving up quickly can even be discouraged. Most people expect that step one of the road to their dreams should be success…but that is rare. Many of the greatest accomplishments of life – medical and technical advances, for example – “failed” many times before they finally worked.  Knowing this can keep depression and disappointment away.
  • People – No one reaches their full potential all alone. We need others to provide insight, guidance, resources, and support along the way. But, what if you don’t have anyone you feel you can count on for these things? You may feel alone, but the truth is you aren’t. Think about your favorite Barista, the one who smiles at you every time you come in – maybe even knows your drink before you order it. What about people who do TED talks or other helpful podcasts? Authors, teachers, pastors, neighbors, grocery store clerks, these are all examples of people we might not originally think of as “part of our tribe” – but they are.  We all desire close, intimate relationships – and we need them…but until we have them, there are others out there who can add to our lives. You are not alone.

We at The Center know the frustrations that come from struggling with the transient nature of emotions and we have tried and true ways to help you find the lasting traits of peace, joy, and optimism. If you tend to describe yourself with enduring traits that are troublesome – angry, depressed, or lonely, for example – and if you do not feel you have the life worth living that comes from having the trait of joy, consider coming to The Center.  Here, you will find a group of caring professionals who exhibit these traits on a daily basis. We want to walk with you on the road to find joy for yourself.

Are you struggling with anxiety or feeling depressed?  Do you feel that you have lost your energy, focus and joy? The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call us today at 1-888-771-5166 to speak with a n admissions specialist.  There is hope. You can regain your life.

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Program Coordinator, she is a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board Certified Group Psychotherapist at The Center • A Place of HOPE. The Center, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, co-occurring disorders and more.

What Hobbies Make You Happy?

What are the loves of your life?  I’m not talking about people here but rather about the things you truly love to do – your hobbies and interests.  It may be your personality, your ability to keep them laughing for hours with your gift of humor, your skill at conversation.  Perhaps it’s your compassion for those in need.  It may be how your relate to children, to the elderly, to the homeless.  These are all part of your emotional DNA – the unique twists and turns that make you the special person you are.

Perhaps you’ve been emotionally exhausted for so long that you’ve put your loves on a shelf.  Depression may have kept you isolated and afraid.  You may have actually forgotten what once got you excited about life.  Perhaps the model train you used to have on display for the neighborhood kids to enjoy is gathering dust in your attic.  At one time you loved photography but now you don’t even know where your camera is located.

You may once had a smile as broad as all outdoors, but your life’s circumstances have taken your smile away.  It’s not that you don’t want to smile, but rather you feel you no longer have much about which to smile.

My grandfather, a miner who owned silver and gold mines in Idaho, loved to pan for gold and to use the nuggets he found to make necklaces for the women in our family.  These were handmade, pure gold nugget-laden necklaces – beautiful, personal works of art.  But more than that, they were labors of love and gifts straight from my grandfather’s heart.  From the day he gave one to my wife as a present, I have never seen her without it.  The day he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, my mother sat singing to him at his bedside, the gold nugget necklace around her neck reflecting the light from an open window.  Today that heartfelt gift keeps on giving, bringing joy to the water and to all who see and appreciate this love-made piece of jewelry.

I tell you this story to encourage you to look deep within and beneath the mountain of hurt that may have buried some of your great loves.  You certainly don’t have to be a wood carver or a gold miner.  That’s not the point.  It’s not the cleverness of the gift but the attitude of the heart that gives the gift that matters.  I’m confident there is something you may have put aside – a real love of your life – that you may not be ready to revisit, bring to the surface, and share with others.

Expressing the loves of your life again will help steady your course, because it will take your eyes away from yourself and focus them on others.  This is something you must decide to do because it’s the right thing for you to do – not as an ego trip or to impress someone else.  When you give the gift of yourself freely, without thought of the cost – anything from your great smile, to baking a cake for someone, to making a gold nugget necklace — you will be edging closer to finding the inner healing.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

 

The Road to Happiness

In this world of difficulty and doubt, of struggles and hardships, of compromises and second choices, of injustice and affliction, each person comes to a crossroads in life.  There are two roads with signposts on each that say, “Way to Happiness.”

On the one hand is the road championed by the world, which promises much and delivers little.  This road is taken by the vast array of people who are tricked into believing the billboards along the way.  Those inducements, even in your own internal dialogue, for taking this road can be compelling because of all their glitzy promises.  Instead of happiness, though, this road can lead to depression, anxiety, and addition.

There is another choice, another road.  However, this road can appear less attractive when compared with the first.  Because of this, it is a road less traveled.  This is the road of faith, which uses a cross for a talisman.  It does not say, “Take this road to avoid your pain.”  It says, “Take this road because of your pain.”  The one road promises you’ll be in control.  The other says you must give it up.  The one appears all about pleasure.  The other appears all about sacrifice.  In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to make the right choice.

In other words, you’ve come to a fork in the road — two paths promising to lead you to your desired destination.  However, the one you choose may not be the most popular, but it may lead you to true happiness.

Taking the road less traveled will make all the difference.  The world’s road eventually leads to a literal end.  God’s road leads to eternity.  Because it can be so difficult to choose the road less traveled, here are just a few things to remember as you stand at the crossroads each day:

  • Happiness is not a response to life that comes from the inside of a person, not from outside circumstances.
  • Happiness is a gift from God, based upon His goodness and mercy apart from circumstances.
  • Depression isn’t something you live with; it’s something you get help for.
  • Worry and anxiety can be treated; they are a learned response to life that can be acknowledged, understood, and overcome.
  • Addictions both mask and amplify the pain; they never heal it.
  • What you tell yourself becomes who you are, so be careful what you say.
  • Relationships are meant to support you, not drag you down.
  • Taking care of your body helps you take care of your heart, soul, and mind.
  • Stop trying to control your own life, and start trusting in God to get you where you need to go.
  • An attitude of optimism is a choice.
  • Each day presents you with a new opportunity to be happy.
  • Sometimes the clearest lesson you receive today is confirmation of where you don’t want to go tomorrow.
  • Don’t wait on others to hand you happiness; take hold of it yourself.
  • Don’t let anything get in the way of what you need.  Ask, expect, and act.

As you embrace a new way of thinking, living, and responding, may you recognize that there is hope.  Optimism can lead you down the path to happiness and joy, and it can overpower the strongholds of depression and anxiety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  The Center was voted in the top 10 facilities for the treatment of the depression in the United States.  For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Pouncing on the Positive Threads in Your Life

Negative threads have a way of weaving into your life with very little effort. They are simply part of your world. Picking those threads out is very helpful. It is also helpful to pack your life with so many good and positive things there isn’t much room left for anything else. Knowing this, you must be very intentional about pouncing on the positive threads that abound each day and making sure to weave them tightly into your life.

This is similar to growing a healthy green lawn. The positives in life are the blades of grass. The negatives in life are the weeds. In order to grow a healthy green lawn, you need to remove the weeds, but you also need to fertilize the grass. When the grass is fertilized, it fills in the holes left by the weeds. The thicker the grass, the harder it is for the weeds to get a foothold. Your life is kind of like that; the more positives you grab a hold of and integrate into your life, the harder it is for those stray negatives to find a place to land.

Some of you will complain that there is very little positive in your life to grab on to. This may be because you’ve stored up so much pain that there isn’t room in your life or heart for much else. Focusing on the negatives often blinds you to seeing the positives. So, be patient with yourself and start small. Start by recognizing there are positives in this world. The apostle John says, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16).

It is all too easy in life to see the negatives, to concentrate on the frustrations, problems, challenges, irritations, and annoyances. Sometimes, it can seem as if these are the only things that come your way. But the positives are often hidden beneath the clamor of the negative and must be looked for and focused on.

This is something Julie needed to learn how to do. Growing up, Julie had learned from her parents that she was not special. In fact, she had been told on multiple occasions that she was a “mistake.” She’d heard her parents refer to her the way she was the “mistake baby,” born long after her parents thought they were through having children. Julie always felt like she was in the way of her parents’ jobs and activities. They would often remark that they were “too old” or “too tired” and often used this as an excuse to distance themselves from her life.

Living as an only child for most of her childhood because her siblings were grown and gone from the house, she had only herself for company. She struggled in school, unlike her older, smarter siblings. Naturally shy, she tended to blend into her surroundings, instead of standing out like her sister and brother, who appeared to excel in whatever they did. No, Julie wasn’t special, and she learned not to expect anything special happening to her.

In order for Julie to break free of this shell of mediocrity she placed around herself, she needed to start seeing the positives in her life. She needed to start seeing herself as a positive in this world, instead of some sort of neutral. Her assignment was to come up out of her shell and concentrate on the positives. She was to be alert and watchful for them. When something positive occurred or a positive thought broke through to her mind, she was to pounce on it! The more positives she pounded on, integrating them into her life, the more positives she saw.

You can be like Julie and learn to pounce on positives. As John says, these blessings are real and out there and available for you to grab on to (John 1:16). Hold each positive up to the light; think about it. Meditate on it. Allow it to fill your mind and thoughts.

By doing this, do you realize you are actually thinking about and meditating on God and his character? God is the source of all good, all positive, in this world. By focusing always on the negative and disbelieving the positive, you devalue the power of God in your life. God is not powerless to provide your life with positives. Did you know God refers to himself as “Almighty” more than three hundred times in the Bible? God is not just powerful, he is Almighty, and that includes over your life and thoughts.

Go ahead and pounce on some positives

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and looking to find your path to happiness, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. In addition to physical, mental, and emotional treatment of depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE offers Christian support to address the spiritual components and struggles in a person’s life that affect grief and depression. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a depression recovery specialist today.