Monday, September 24, 2018


Someone To Talk To | Turn Depression To Happiness breakfast table setting to describe the feeling of community and effective relationships that is enabled from telephone counseling The Power of a Community
A number of years ago in my university days, I was forced to stay at school and take a summer course on auditing and taxation - not the most exciting way to spend the summer but the most difficult part of this challenge was being away from family and friends, and I came to a place where I was pretty emotionally low. Every week I would phone home and I would talk and often complain about what was going on and what wasn't going on and then one day, over the phone listening to me, my dad asked “what do you really need, what do you want?”. I thought about the question for a second and said, “I want to come home” - and he said, “you should come home”. Even though I had been independent for a number of years, I found myself twenty-four hours later sitting at the kitchen table talking with my dad. I was working hard at school but I just needed to be home and after a little while at home and reconnecting, refocusing, and realigning I was ready to go back recharged and able to accomplish what I was called to do.

Certainly, we all can identify with that moment when you realize what you really want – “I want to be home”, and whether it's a child away at camp for the first time or a student away at university or just that feeling that overcomes, overwhelms and creates an ache in us, we all understand that desire to be in a place where we are understood, known, valued, loved and celebrated and a place where we can really just be ourselves.

For some of you that was the home you grew up in and it's pretty easy to go back there. For others it's the home you live in now. But sadly, for some of us, it's an experience that doesn’t exist now and or that has never been experienced. That sense of belonging, that idea that makes for great movies eludes us and we look for ‘likes’ on social media as we acknowledge that something inside us aches and longs and understands that there is a place that we need to belong - a place called home. And while we wait and watch and journey towards that desire to be home, we don't travel alone - there are many others that we interact with, that we try to form a family and build a safe community with that we can commit ourselves to. We long to be connected to others, to build a relationship that lasts and has no barriers and allows us to be together.

So how do we do it? To help move forward along this track you need to keep focused on a simple model and a pathway centered around Connection and Commitment. These words can act as a guide that can help you develop, evaluate yourself and allow you to assess if you are hitting the mark. Each of these words need to be present in everything that you do.

happy daughter father relationship present as a result of effective relationships created through help of telephone counseling
Connection is so important because if we are going to be a person whose life is transformed we need to create opportunities for people to meet us, and to create environments where people can connect with us. The number one felt need in every person’s life is the need to belong and the need for a relationship. In our Western culture we have everything you could possibly ever want except one thing – a community relationship, and you can't buy that. In talking with people who have traveled I've come to conclude that we are the loneliest people on the planet. You go to other parts of the world where they have far less than we do in so many ways and yet you think oh my goodness oh how they love each other and how they care for each other. Sadly, we greet each other physically tired, emotionally drained, and we relationally isolate and are often unaware that our greatest simple need is to be reminded that we are loved and that we all are better off because we are here together. Once we realize that, we then have an opportunity to extend that love to those around us. This is the key to an abundant life - do this and it will turn the key and open the door - learn to love others.

In our lives so often, we try and try and try again. I'm going to try this week to be a better person. I'm going to do it this time. I'm going to try and try really hard this time and not let it go. Sometimes I wonder if on our gravestones it will read he really, really tried. But we try and we fail over and over, and we wipe out and we get reminded regularly that we're not able to get there. People say try harder, try to get over it, try to do it this time - but the reality is we cannot do it alone – we need someone to help us create a new habit, a new way of life, a person to say let's walk and learn this together. We need to take the pressure off so we can learn and love, and only then will we really live.

If there's one thing I want you to take away from this article it's this: the key to having an abundant life is to become engaged in an authentic loving community. That's not a nice to have, it’s an essential. This isn't about having a greeter at Walmart you know and can wave to, it’s about having someone who sees you, who knows you, who loves you, values you and you connect with each other in a real and authentic way - not just when you see each other at the scheduled times in life. Connection is the first step towards that authentic community.

I was designed to be in relationship with you and you with me and we were designed to bring others into that relationship and to be in community together. We get a sense of that community in our connection with family, in marriage, with children, with parents. However, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we’re not designed to go it alone and that ache for home that ache for community reminds us of our very nature. But here’s the problem – quite often it’s our own selfishness that shows up and wrecks and destroys our community. Community can be lost far quicker than it can be built and as soon as you put yourself first, you start down the path to ruin. I wish it was true that people after being selfish, could acknowledge it, communicate with one another and share how they’ve struggled, how they’ve failed and forgive each other. But the fact is that when the community starts to crumble people hide from each other. They cut-off, reject, and betray each other and it stings bad. As disunity breaks down the relationship, strife picks up a torrent pace and we end up broken, hurting, destroyed, lonely, abandoned and in the exact opposite place that we were designed to be.
But there is good news – the community can be recovered! You simply need to open up your life and say “I want to come home”. From there the healing can begin. You have the key in your hand. Open up the door and start the journey back home to rebuild the foundation.

women smiles as picture is taken at home most likely by close relationship made more effective through telephone counseling sessions
Know also that while you can be a good neighbor and work with people and engage with people - they will disappoint you, and you will disappoint them, and you will hurt them, and you will make mistakes. It is hard and it is not perfect. And because you know that you won’t love perfectly or be loved back perfectly - you don't need them to give you a sense of identity, of belonging or self-worth. Just free yourself to love and come alongside and be together. When you do, something beautiful will start to happen and that risk you take of moving back into a community and loving those who are hard to love will generate a real connection that you don't have to fake. People will be there for you in a real and vital way.

Now that you have read this article there is no excuse. You know what needs to be done, you have been initiated. You are the ones who now need to reach out in a loving way, serve and be willing to initiate the work, even if that puts you in a very vulnerable place. Your required actions of faith and trust and openness to take on this journey could hurt and disappoint you. But, it's worth it!

Always be a person who provides an opportunity to connect that is authentic. We are united not just in our triumphs and our victories but in our common weaknesses, failures, disappointments and in the consistency that we are not a perfect community. Every single day there are lonely people around you in the world that you live beside, that you work with, you interact with and you have the opportunity to treat them in a way that demonstrates togetherness and hope.

People change for two reasons:
  1. because of what others do, that you did not ask them to do, and you didn't even know to ask them to do, and
  2. because they encounter the love of people who are willing to talk, listen, share and hold them accountable; and when they need, sometimes, to suffer the consequences of mistakes, those people choose not to grind their nose in it
Let's become a connected authentic community so that we can experience an abundant happy life.

If you've ever been to California, you may have driven through the redwood forests and seen some of the largest living trees on earth. Some of them are over three hundred feet high and they estimate that some of them over two thousand years old. You would think a tree that large would have an incredible root system with roots almost as deep as the tree is high - but not with the redwoods. In fact, they have a very shallow root system because of where they grow but their roots are intertwined. They're locked together with each other so when the storms come and the winds blow the redwood still stands.

There lies an incredible opportunity around us as each day to heal our lonely planet and the loneliness that has touched so many of us with a counter-cultural vision that demonstrates that there is a home in an authentic community. Serving one another is contagious and people can't stay away from it as relationships grow stronger. The small relationship and community you once had will not stay small for long. Others will notice the difference you make and want to become part of that community - this week you're going to be in a staff room, or hanging out with your friends, or doing something and you say, “this feels good, we're connecting, we're laughing” – and I'm telling you it's a glimpse of something way greater and a much deeper truth demonstrating that you were designed for relationships with each other and through them an abundant life.
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A TeleCounsel Group counselor can effectively partner and guide you in this journey. We all need help getting there, and the short time spent retraining your habits and living more effectively and harmoniously in relationships will prove to be well worth it. We look forward to working with you to achieve this end. Please call us at 1-855-257-9444.

References: Andrew Gordon (Speaker). (2018, September). Messages [Audio]. Retrieved from

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Power of 40

Expert Online Mental Health Counselors | Let's Put Smart To Work “I can’t do everything today, but I will take one small step.”
road sign showing turns ahead with speed limit of 40 as a preface to defining the meaning of the  number 40 as a completion of journey that can be guided by a telephone counselor.
Have you ever noticed the power of the number 40?  It’s mysteriously woven itself into the fabric of our society in some interesting ways.  For instance:
  1. Celsius and Fahrenheit are equal at negative 40
  2. A significant milestone birth-day is 40
  3. In math, 40 is a semi-perfect number – that is, if you add up all the numbers it can be divided into, you get 40.
  4. The word Forty is alphabetically ordered
  5. There are 40 players on a baseball teams’ roster
  6. In football, teams assess speed/agility of players by having them complete a 40-yard dash
  7. On Sesame street the highest they count up to is 40
  8. U2’s 1983 song album contains lyrics from Psalm 40
  9. Average television programming schedule is 40 weeks
  10. During the bubonic plague, ships stayed in harbor for 40 days before passengers were let off
  11. The Bible was written by 40 different people
  12. A typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks
  13. There is a saying “Life Begins at 40”
  14. A quick nap is 40 winks
  15. A customary work week is 40 hours
  16. The number of spaces on a monopoly board is 40
  17. To remove a rusty bolt, use WD40 (brand name signifies 40 attempts to get the formula right)
  18. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness
  19. The great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights
  20. Jewish people wandered in the desert for 40 years

In general, the number 40 typically symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation and its emphasis is on patience, order and management. Interestingly enough, it also takes about 40 days of concerted effort to create a new habit and foster real, lasting, lifelong change in a person.  Once that period of trial, testing and patient endurance is finished, a new habit is created that can last a life-time.  Perfect! thank you for that knowledge, I know that I need to change a few things in my life, so I’ll just force myself to focus on changing that for 40 days and voila - a new me!  Well, yes that is basically what is being said, however, the problem for most people is that doing it alone, using your will-power, with no outside force pushing you toward that end is difficult and failure rates are high.

What is Willpower?
The definition of willpower is the ability to resist short-term gratification in pursuit of long-term goals or objectives.  Ohhhh but we love short-term gratification. I want it, I need it, I gotta gotta have it.  In a society that’s so driven off external short-term gratification, it’s almost impossible for an individual’s willpower to win.  There are simply too many external forces pushing against you in another direction and your best intentions are set to fail before you start.  And when willpower fails you get frustrated, emotionally charged, and often end up doing something irrational.   Some common effects of a depleted willpower can be:
  • reduced ability to think clearly, rationally and quickly (…sorry, can you repeat that)
  • diminished intake of healthy food (…ice cream, ice cream, get me some ice cream)
  • substance abuse (…I gotta relax)
  • increased purchasing behavior (…I love these shoes)
  • poor financial decisions (…I’ll use next Thursday’s paycheck to cover this)

girl with a semi-smile understanding the need to seek assistance of a telephone counselor
Since the effects of willpower depletion may be mitigated by positive moods, beliefs and attitudes, we typically attempt to get in a positive mood by quickly applying 1 of the above external, short-term, satisfiers.  And the more we apply those short-term, external satisfiers, the further we slip away from achieving our goal.  But wait – I made it through school, I maintain a job, a career, a family – all these have required significant will-power over the years and I’ve managed them ok.  Well, maybe, but let’s not discount that when you were in school you paid money to be there, you had a professor overseeing your progress, forcing you take tests and continue the learning for the sake of good marks.  There were other students working alongside you attempting to achieve the same goal.  In your career and your family life its similar – there are co-workers, bosses, threats of unemployment, bonuses, keeping up with the Jones’ that have all assisted you to maintain focus, prioritize, and ignore the external, short-term gratifier influence.  If you had to go it alone, your will-power would most likely have failed you miserably.  The bottom line is that all of us need help to get better and accomplish things.   No one does it alone, and those that have had the most success and are the most well-rounded and put together among us have typically had the most help getting there.

So, What Now?
male counselor writes in notebook during session with female patient
What we have established so far is that it takes 40 days to make a sustainable life change, and that it’s very difficult to do it alone.  In fact, the entire structure of our education system is built on the premise that people need help in order to learn.  So, what now?  The first step in every program is to get past your denial, acknowledge this is not a failure and take action.  Often, taking action in the form of contacting someone else, is the most difficult step of the entire journey.  Almost every top executive at every large company has a mentor, a coach, a counselor or facilitator appointed to work with him/her to be better.  To be better at leading, at managing, at growing, at influencing, at decision making, at visioning, at managing burn-out, at overcoming stress etc. etc.  For corporate America we say that makes sense, but often when we seek personal counsel we feel like we have become “that guy” that couldn’t do it on his own, that friends and family will stigmatize or that has failed to keep it together.  ENOUGH of that thinking – it makes No Sense At ALL!  Millions of people get help every single day.  From people that are struggling to cope and survive all the way up to our top leaders and executives.  Our societal status has nothing to do with needing help.  The fact is we all could benefit from taking action and working with someone to accomplish our goals and help manage our struggles.  Life-long happiness would be so much more attainable for the masses if only we could swallow our pride for a second and get there.
after telephone counseling man gets in racing sailboat and catches wind and overcomes stagnating life

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” Mark Twain

Follow Through
child demonstrates follows through on baseball swing similar to need to follow-through to achieve happiness explained during telephone counseling
My hockey and baseball coaches growing up all talked about following through with your swing to enable more power and accuracy.  In a nutshell, follow through occurs after you have thrown the ball or struck the puck – it ensures that your swing continues and ultimately points the shuttle towards the intended target.  When it comes to life, follow-through is more important than it is in sports because a goal without a plan is just a wish.  A Charles Kettering quote states: “It is the follow-through that makes the great difference between success and failure, because it is so easy to stop.”
Follow-through in sports occurs after the intended strike and guides the ball toward the target.  In life, after the goal is set and a plan is established, it’s the follow-through that guides you to the intended target.  Like the Kettering quote says, when we count on our own willpower it is very easy to stop, but it is the follow-through that counts for the most.  A tremendous number of folks today are what I call “Start/Stop” people.  They have great intentions, lofty aspirations, and the confidence to take-on almost any task.  If only they could follow-through.  They start new tasks, but either stop before completion or rush to completion, greatly sacrificing quality.  The amount that they could have accomplished, the pride that they could have generated, the learning, understanding and confidence boost that they could have received are all lost.  Often it only takes a few start/stop failures to totally wipe out the persons confidence completely.  They then succumb to the doldrums of life and accomplish little.  How can a person who was once so vibrant, excited to learn, grow and contribute have turned into this?  They muddle through their day, frustrated by the mundane tasks of life, and put on a mask of happiness for those around them.  They have taken down their sails and have accepted their fate to drift on the wave’s of life. Unfortunately, these people are everywhere and there’s a good chance you’re one of them.

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women guides man down path with many doorways to potential happiness
How did you make it to this place? – its simple.  You tried to do it alone.  Your willpower and follow-through got you here and now, when the simplest of things goes awry you get angry and frustrated.  The good news is there is hope.  You can get back to that place of vibrancy, and reignite that desire to learn no matter how old you are.  Do Not accept or be satisfied with where you are.  You have an entire life ahead of you, waiting to be lived.  You just need help to get the sail back up and catch some wind.  At TeleCounsel Group, our counselors can help with both.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

How To Be Happy

Happiness And Mental Health | Stop Chasing The Happiness Equation
man standing behind women with his arms around her while both are smiling after receiving help from a telephone counselor.
Ahead of the curve, better than average, top of the charts, king of the hill, brightest and the best – all of these imply success but also inadvertently imply failure as well.  It’s both Positive and Negative.  When you congratulate someone by saying “You were the best one out there”, that compliment is at the expense of someone else. I’m certain the loser wouldn’t feel too good if they inadvertently overheard that compliment.  And therein lies the problem with our traditional pursuit of happiness.  That is, someone else has to lose for you to achieve.    You constantly battle, fight, claw your way to the top of that dog eat dog corporate ladder, eventually arriving at the top, battle scarred, drained, leaving a trail of human wreckage in your wake AND… you bump out the last guy that got there the same way.  Now a new bar is set – let’s achieve that!!!  For what?  Money, Prestige, Respect?   At what cost? Any cost?  I mean, we’re all playing the same game, so it is what it is, right?  The sore loser should suck it up, learn from his failure and try harder tomorrow.  Maybe soon, he will be the guy at the top.  Who cares about that loser anyway – how can I get on top?

Everyone I talk to nowadays describes themselves as a ‘type A’ personality.  Aggressive, achiever, no-nonsense, win at all costs person who will dominate and destroy all the other ‘types’ that dare venture into their path.  What a lovely way to describe yourself – but it’s true, that’s how many people today want to be perceived.  The problem now is, everyone’s ‘type A’.   Everyone is looking out for number 1, and with that individualistic mind-set we not only hurt our individual happiness, but we reduce what we could achieve together.

But hey, come-on now, our structure today drives inspiration, creativity, adaptation and change – look what we have accomplished as a society.  While we certainly have generated external material accomplishments, we also have amassed a growing number of people who have been left in the wake, pushed aside, and are hurting as a result.   Doctors’ offices, counseling centers, online therapists, coaches, mentors are full of people needing help.  And its not just people at the bottom of the totem-pole that are using these services, it’s those at the top as well.  We are all hurting – happiness is eluding everyone.  The money, prestige and respect hasn’t filled our bucket, because a new bar for success is continually being set.

So, what if we could do it better?  I don’t mean, coddle the losers until they feel better –I mean, generate more accomplishments, eliminate success at the expense of others, and increase the happiness of everyone.  UTOPIA!  Is it possible?

If we plotted everyone on the productivity or the proverbial happiness curve some would be at the top, some middle, and some bottom.  So, at minimum, in order to do this right, the whole curve needs to shift up the productivity and happiness axis.  To do this we must first understand what makes us productive, and what makes us happy.  Fortunately, they are intertwined.  A person who is happy is more productive than a person who is not.  And there is a compounding effect as well, in that, a person who is happy, influences those around him and makes them also more productive.

Where does this happiness come from and how do I get it?
The facts are that only a small amount of our happiness comes from external factors.  We all require food, water, shelter and basic essentials to live – when that is achieved the base external measure of happiness is met.  Unfortunately, after that, any increases in those external measures do not move the happiness needle very much at all long-term.  Sometimes, when we accumulate excess external factors, we actually cause the needle to move in the opposite direction.

Internal factors are where we can really impact the movement of the happiness/productivity needle.  These come from our inward thoughts, actions, family and relationship connections.  Its how we view the world around us and consciously manage our own personal impact on it.  Focus your brain on the competition, the workload, the annoyances, the stresses, and the complaints – the needle moves down.  Retrain your focus on being positive and the needle moves up.

The following are two simple ways that happier people view the world around them:
  • Optimism – recognize the stress and see it as a challenge not a threat. 75% of your successes are a result of your optimism levels, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat; 
  • Gratitude – be thankful for everything in the world around you. Thankful for the person who cooks your meals, cleans your clothes, teaches your kids, checks your groceries, waits your table, picks you up.  Have no expectations of anyone around you (regardless of whether you are paying them or not) and be thankful that your paths have crossed and an interaction has taken place. Communicate that gratitude every time and without exception.
In addition to becoming more optimistic and grateful, you also need to Stop thinking a certain way.  Stop thinking that:  Hard work equals greater happiness. If I work harder, I'll be more successful and if I'm more successful, then I'll be happier.  This philosophy is the underlying principle of how behavior is motivated today. The problem is that, it doesn’t work.  Every time you have a success, the goalposts of what success looks like are changed.  You got good grades, now get better grades. Got a good house, now get a better house. Got a good job, get a better job.  Hit your sales target, we're gonna change the sales target – when happiness is on the other side of success your brain never gets there, because the definition of success is always getting pushed out.

What we've done is we have conditioned our brains to believe that to be happy we need to have success first.  But when new goalposts are continually set on what success is, and we continually strive for more, our brains never get to be happy.  We constantly push happiness out of our own reach.  The real problem is that our brains actually work in the opposite order.  If you can raise somebody's level of positive in the present then their positive brain, will perform significantly better. In fact, research has shown, that a positive brain, increases creativity, energy levels, and every single outcome improves. Your brain at positive is more productive, influential, faster, and more accurate.  So, if we can find a way of becoming positive in the present then we can start to see what our brains are actually capable of.

Training your brain to be positive in 1 month:
calendar for a month is a tool used in telephone counseling sessions to better structure thinking.

The following are three simple ways that you can retrain the way you think and start viewing the world differently:
  • At the beginning of each day, for one month, set aside a couple minutes to write down three new things that you are grateful for;
  • During the day complete an act of kindness. Call or write a positive email to someone in your social network, praising or thanking them for something they did;
  • At the end of each day, set aside a couple minutes to write down a positive experience you've had during the previous day. Allow your brain to relive that moment of happiness and train it to focus on that one thing, rather than allowing it to bounce around on multiple items as it usually wants to do.
At the end of the month you will notice that your brain has started to be retrained in a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative but for the positive.

Now, all this is great in isolation, but our physical environment also has a large impact on our well-being, productivity and happiness.  Although we don’t have complete control over our surroundings, we can make specific efforts to infuse them with positive.  A few ways to infuse positive into an environment that you don’t control may include:
  • Keep a picture of someone you love with you, and put it where you can see it. Every time you look at it, that’s a hit of positive
  • Spend time outside on a nice day and soak in some vitamin D and breathe the fresh air. Boom! another hit of positive.
  • Never speak ill of anyone – be grateful of each encounter, meeting, discussion – Positive!
  • Take a 15 minute break from thinking about your work every couple hours, every day. Stretch or exercise for those 15 minutes, or just talk and laugh with those around you.  Positive, positive, positive.  (15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day is the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant for the first six months).

5 fists bumps coming together across a desk in an office setting after completing the job together - similar to a telephone therapy or online counseling session.
The above sounds simple and straightforward and it is – but will you do it?  You have the power to set yourself up for success.  But will you use that power?  Lurking beneath every well-intention resolution is the truth that: most of us are lazy slobs, and no amount of self-improvement planning is going to change that fact. Maybe you can force yourself to make it to the gym every day — that’s certainly a victory in itself, but it’s distinctly different from wanting to go to the gym every day.   We all want to be better, but as our will-power fades and we eventually succumb to our comfortable rut, we find ourselves looking for that next motivational speaker or article to generate another spark that gets us excited again.  The secret to making real lasting change and getting through that first month is to acknowledge that you need help.  We need accountability.  Most of us cannot do it alone because what we are talking about here is changing habits that have been learned, developed and become ingrained in us over time.  Putting your will-power up against your habits is no-contest.  Will-power will lose every time.  If you could last on your own for a month, then a new habit would have been formed – but unfortunately, we never get there and we slip back into our regular old doldrums.  When people feel like they are fighting alone, or striving for success alone, they burn out and the world around them feels like a huge burden. But there is a powerful, viable alternative to individually pursuing success and happiness, and that is: doing it together.

girl in red shirt with a big smile after an online therapy or telephone counseling session
Invest in yourself and create a different, healthier, happier, more productive life.  Many counselors and coaches have been trained to help work with you through these challenges and hold you accountable to enact real, lasting, habitual change.  Too often I talk to people who get excited about the prospect of changing their lives.  They recognize that their life could be very different, better and way more meaningful. They are excited, motivated and geared up to do the work…but, they quickly fall short of realizing their goal when it comes to paying for it.  Their brain doesn’t compute using an external factor (money) to increase an internal one.  Often, they continue to go in circles, encountering the same problems, yielding the same results throughout their entire life; or, they spiral farther downward until they hit rock-bottom. It’s sad that we are more willing to invest in external factors like entertainment, technology, a sweet taste or a new pair of shoes than we are in making our life better and reaping the long-term benefits.  We are more willing to invest in things that are easy, now, and don’t move the happiness needle at all long-term rather than pursuing habitual, internal change.  Yes, the internal change may take a bit longer. Yes, it may involve a bit of work. Yes, it may cost a few bucks.  But the reward is a life more productive and happier, with less fighting, less sadness, and more meaningful friendships.  The other amazing thing is that quite often, when we become this new person – more external factors tend to start spinning-off naturally.  The pursuit, drive and fight we used to have to obtain them isn’t necessary any longer – it just comes naturally and flows directly to us.

The following is an excerpt from “The PERMA model”.  It was designed by Martin Seligman with five core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. Seligman says these five elements can help people reach a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning (and ties nicely into what we’ve just discussed):
  • Positive Emotion: Peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, and love fall into this category;
  • Engagement: Losing ourselves to a task or project that provides us with a sense of “disappeared time” because we are so highly engaged;
  • Relationships: People who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not;
  • Meaning: comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether a religion or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives;
  • Accomplishment/Achievement: to feel significant life satisfaction, we must strive to better ourselves in some way.
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Final Thoughts:
Is it finally time to invest in yourself? Our are you satisfied with circling and experiencing the same issues over and over because you still think happiness is about how much paper you have in your wallet?

One of the misconceptions about happiness is that it’s about being cheerful, joyous, and content all the time; always having a smile on your face. It’s not – being happy and leading rich lives is about taking the good with the bad, and learning how to re-frame the bad.

In other words, we’re not happy when we’re chasing happiness. We’re happiest when we’re not thinking about it, when we’re enjoying the present moment because we’re lost in a meaningful project, working toward a higher goal, or helping someone who needs us.  We’ve focused so much on productivity and ignored happiness and that has been to our own detriment.

If you would like to start your journey toward true happiness, Call 1-855-257-9444 and a counselor will be happy to assist you.

Jennifer Moss, JM. What is Happiness. [Blog]

Shawn Achor, SA. (2010). Happiness Advantage. [Video] The happy secret to better work. Available at:

Shawn Achor, SA. (2018) [Blog] Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality? Available at:

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Living With Adult ADHD

ADHD Treatment|Priorities Therapy|Achieve Results Today What is Adult ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The estimated percentage of adults living with ADHD has changed over time and its measurement varies, however, it is estimated that approximately 14 million people in the USA alone struggle with ADHD with only 1 in 5 seeking help. ADHD usually begins in childhood and continues into adulthood with symptoms characterized by inattention (lacking ability to maintain focus), hyperactivity (abnormally or extremely active and sometimes disruptive) and impulsiveness (acting without forethought). In some cases, ADHD is not diagnosed until the person is an adult.

Adults with ADHD may have trouble prioritizing, organizing, managing time, and maintaining a job. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction. While hyperactivity sometimes decreases in adulthood, difficulty paying attention may continue or increase.

The word FOCUS is written in lights and is blurry
Photo by: Stefan Cosma

Symptoms of adult ADHD
Diagnosis of ADHD in adults can be difficult since there is no definitive medical test. Diagnosis involves gathering information from close relationships, filling out checklists, and medical evaluations to rule out other conditions. What makes it even more difficult, is that many adults with ADHD also have other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, making the ADHD harder to identify.

Many adults with ADHD do not recognize they have it —they just know that everyday tasks can be challenging to complete. Adults with ADHD may have trouble prioritizing and focusing on the task at hand, leading to missed deadlines, forgotten meetings and often result in problems at work. Untreated, the resulting mental and physical problems can strain relationships and cause difficulties accomplishing simple tasks.
ADHD is typically diagnosed as one of three types, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
  1. inattentive type,
  2. hyperactive/impulsive type, or
  3. combined type.
Inattentive type (ADD):
  • Lack of focus – careless errors, easily distracted, overlooks details, many unfinished tasks;
  • Disorganized – time management issues, messy work, difficulty tracking tasks and prioritizing which ones should be done first;
  • Procrastination – often the shiny new task wins the ADHD mind, leaving many routine, important tasks incomplete. Late arrival to important meetings, or poorly completed assignments can be common if they are considered boring;
  • Poor ability or thought to planning.
Hyperactive/impulsive type:
  • Hyper focus – highly focused on a single subject to the point of ignoring everything else around, including relationships;
  • Impulsivity - doing what feels good now is often chosen over looking ahead, choosing responsibly and considering the consequences;
  • Emotional rollercoaster - easily become bored, looking for excitement on a whim. Small frustrations can seem intolerable or bring on depression and mood swings;
  • Restless – desires to keep moving and doing new things leading to frustration when not satisfied. Difficulty waiting for their turn. Fidgets continually, can’t stay seated;
  • Insensitive and uncaring - talking over others, inattentiveness, and becoming easily bored can drain relationships.
Outcomes of these symptoms may include:
  • Poor self-image - problems experienced in childhood from lack of ability to concentrate in school, progress into work, and/or relationships are often viewed as personal failures;
  • Difficulty coping with stress may lead to anger or complete withdrawal;
  • Forgets to return phone calls, pay bills, keep appointments;
  • Changes employers often;
  • Few personal or work achievements;
  • Relationship issues, including divorce;
  • Trouble with the law;
  • Alcohol/other substance abuse;
  • Frequent car accidents or other accidents;
Some symptoms, such as outward hyperactivity, may decrease in adulthood however many adults still describe a consistent feeling of internal restlessness. The restlessness, coupled with impulsiveness can often lead to poor choices in terms of spending habits and executive level functioning.

Boys are diagnosed with ADHD more often than girls, however, by adulthood this ratio typically equalizes. Boys are more apt to display hyperactivity and impulsiveness which alert teachers and parents to a potential case of ADHD, whereas girls are more apt to present as the inattentive type. Many female adults with ADHD as children recall spending most of their time in class day dreaming, being tuned out and unable to focus on learning. Women are generally diagnosed later in life.
Women with ADHD are sometimes diagnosed with depression rather than ADHD. While depression can occur alongside ADHD, the symptoms can be misinterpreted as depression rather than the inattentive type of ADHD. Studies have shown that females are five times more likely than males to be diagnosed with depression and three times more likely to be treated for depression before their ADHD diagnosis.

Causes of ADHD
The exact cause of ADHD is still not clear, however, factors that may be involved in its development include:
  • ADHD tends to run in families.
  • Problems with the central nervous system during development
  • Chemical imbalance. Areas of the brain that control attention are less active.
  • Poor nutrition, infections, smoking, drinking, and substance abuse during pregnancy.
  • Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain
While ADHD cannot be prevented or cured, it can be understood, and managed effectively. Noticing the signs early, and working through an effective treatment and education plan, can help adults with ADHD manage their symptoms.

Adult ADHD treatment includes medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and treatment for any mental health conditions that occur along with ADHD. Often a combination of medication and psychotherapy are the most effective. Therapy focused on these issues and ways to better monitor your behavior can be very helpful.
These treatments can relieve many symptoms of ADHD, but they don't cure it. It may take some time to determine what works best for you.
  1. Prescription medication:Many symptoms of ADHD can be managed with medication. Be sure to create a list of questions for your doctor along with some notes about your symptoms and medical history. Many doctors will prescribe stimulant and non-stimulant medications depending on the symptoms. Ask about the length of treatment, and possible side effects. Any side effects should be communicated back to your doctor. Do some research beforehand and discuss possible alternatives options if you would prefer not to take prescription medication. Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.
  1. Counseling sessions:Psychotherapy (counseling) can help someone with ADHD learn better ways to handle their emotions and frustration. It is primarily focused on understanding and changing behavior patterns and commonly helps improve self-esteem. Counseling may also help family members better understand what the person with ADHD is up against and provide support to overcome.
Psychotherapy may help you:
  • Improve time management and organizational skills
  • Reduce impulsive behavior
  • Develop strategies for controlling your temper
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Develop better problem-solving skills
  • Improve relationships with family, co-workers and friends
Common psychotherapy for ADHD includes Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a structured form of counseling that teaches specific skills to manage behavior and change negative thinking patterns. It helps with management of life challenges, work issues, relationship problems, and can help address other mental health conditions, such as depression or substance abuse.
Often the ADHD CBT sessions can be coupled with marital counseling and family therapy that help loved one’s cope with the stress of living with someone who has ADHD and learn what they can do to help. Such counseling can improve communication and problem-solving skills.

In preparing for your appointment with your mental health provider or doctor it is beneficial to have thought about and to be prepared with the following information:
  • Past and current symptoms and the problems they've caused, such as trouble at work, or in relationships.
  • When did you first experience having problems focusing, paying attention or sitting still?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes you have had.
  • What are your sleep hours and patterns?
  • Any medications you take, including any vitamins, herbs or supplements, and the doses. Also include the amount of caffeine and alcohol you use, and whether you use recreational drugs.
  • Discuss any past evaluations and results of formal testing

Self-Help Strategies
Along with professional treatment, the following are strategies that can assist in combating ADHD symptoms:
  • In the evening, before bedtime - make a list of tasks that you plan to accomplish the next day;
  • Break down tasks into small manageable steps;
  • Record ideas or things you will need to remember on your phone.
  • Write reminder notes to yourself. Put them in places where you will see them;
  • Keep an appointment book or electronic calendar to track appointments and deadlines;
  • Set up a system to file and organize information. Use this system consistently;
  • Follow a consistent routine from day to day and keep items, such as your keys and your wallet, in the same place;
  • Ask for help.
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There is Hope
Adults with ADHD can find solutions to overcome the difficulties of their condition. Get organized, stick with plans, and finish what you start. It’s also important to learn how to manage stress, eat right, and regularly get enough sleep  so that your body is equipped to handle these challenges.  Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you prioritize and realize these outcomes instead of the ones associated with ADHD.   Please give us a call to find out more.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Combating Depression

Expert Depression Counselors|Let's Put Smart To Work

What is Depression?

Depression is a medical condition that negatively affects how you physically feel, how you behave and the way you think and process information. It is more than just having a case of "the blues" for a day.  It affects the brain which it turn affects the rest of the body.  Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed which, over time, can have a dramatic impact on your health and well-being. It can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and personally. Depression can affect anyone from children to the elderly although it typically first appears in teenagers and is more likely in women than in men. Millions of people suffer from depression and it is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.  Fortunately, effective treatments are available.
Distraught girl with head in heads at a desk


Many people that suffer from mental health challenges never get diagnosed or treated because they don't recognize the symptoms. The following are some common depression symptoms  to be mindful of:
  • insomnia, or sleeping too much
  • loss of energy
  • significant weight gain
  • feeling helpless and hopeless, flat or empty
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • slow movement and speech noticeable by others
  • zero motivation, withdrawn
  • self-loathing, worthlessness
  • feeling sad or having a lowered mood for a prolonged period of time (approx. 2 weeks)

Depression is different from grief despite sharing some similar symptoms. In the event a loved one dies, grief is a normal process which can often bring about feelings of sadness and result in withdrawal.  Unlike depression, however, the person grieving does not normally enter a state of self-loathing and is able to maintain their own personal self-esteem.  Further, the pain that is typically associated with grief, typically comes in waves, whereas during depression the state of pain is lasting and typically exhibited for a prolonged period of greater than 2 weeks.  If in doubt ask your physician or mental health professional to conduct an assessment to determine if depression is present and recommend the appropriate treatment.


Getting support and help plays a vital role in overcoming depression. It is difficult on your own to maintain the effort required to beat depression and the tendency is to isolate your-self from close friends, family members and professionals that can assist. Even in the most severe cases, depression is a very treatable condition. The most common treatments used are psychotherapy and medication with the goal being a permanent stop of the depression symptoms.  Almost all patients experience at least some relief from their symptoms.

The following are some common treatments for depressive symptoms:

1. Psychotherapy: 
One of the most helpful treatments is to talk with a mental health therapist. Common approaches that have been proven effective include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy - involves the challenging and changing of negative thought patterns and has proven to be as or more effective than antidepressant medications, and protects against relapse.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy - a form of CBT, targets unhealthy or disruptive behaviors and teaches the skills necessary to become more adaptive to stressful situations in the future. This form of therapy is useful for treatment-resistant depression.

2. Prescription medication:
Be sure to create a list of questions for your doctor along with some notes about your symptoms and medical history.  Many doctors will prescribe anti-depressant medication. Ask about the length of treatment, and possible side effects.  Any side effects should be communicated back to your doctor. Do some research beforehand and discuss possible alternatives options if you would prefer not to take prescription medication.

Self-Help Strategies

Along with professional treatment, the following are strategies that can assist in combating depressive symptoms:
  • Lifestyle Changes - get the rest that your body deserves.  Turn off the television/computer and read a book - go to bed at a reasonable time and force yourself to get up early.  You will be surprised at what a well rested and functioning brain can accomplish.
  • Physical Appearance - when you awake, make sure you devote enough time to yourself.  Clean-up well.  Force yourself to invest that first part of the day back into you.
  • Eat Healthy - eliminate sugars and fast food. Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Exercise - improves your fatigue and temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Starting an exercise routine when you are feeling depressed can be difficult but has long-term benefits. Regular exercises refresh your brain and improve your energy levels.
  • Alcohol & Drugs - eliminate and cleanse.  If you truly want to feel better about yourself and the world around you, remove these from your environment and don't look back.
  • Stay Connected - force yourself out of isolation to see close friends and family members. You may feel ashamed or too exhausted to talk about your situation but sharing with supportive family members will enable them to support you back.
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There is Hope

Depression is real and help is available. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, a first step is to see your family physician or mental health counselor. Talk about your concerns and request a thorough evaluation. You can then start to address your mental health needs.

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Combating Depression

Expert Depression Counselors|Let's Put Smart To Work What is Depression? Depression is a medical condition that negatively affects h...