Mental Health Awareness Week is October 1-7 and one of the best ways to keep our bodies in shape and minds sharp is by keeping a regular self-care routine. One of the first questions I ask a new client is, “Tell me about your self care routine.” My question is often followed by an awkward silence before my client jokes, “What’s that?”
One of the models I use in therapy is Internal Family Systems (IFS). A few of the core tenets of IFS include:
Each blog post in this series will examine one of The 8 C words.
Could a simple drawing of a circle reveal (and explain) your deepest held beliefs?
In 2016 The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study that conducted a simple test. The researchers showed participants a drawing and ask them if they thought the drawing was a circle or not.
The purpose of the test was to determine how people tolerate differences that deviate from the accepted norms of society.
The researchers showed each participant drawings of perfectly symmetrical circles and circles that looked as if they had been drawn freehand by a child.
They discovered people who only identified the perfectly symmetrical circle as a “circle” were more sensitive to any deviation from the accepted norms of their society. While those who were more broad-minded in their interpretation of the asymmetrical circle were more tolerant of deviations from societal norms.
Happiness often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to worthy pursuits. “Happiness is temporary and shallow,” the Happy-Haters spitefully protest. But secretly all we really want is to be happy. From TV shows to vacations to religious experiences, we organize our lives around the question of, “How can I be happy right now?” whether we admit that to ourselves or not.
Happiness is adaptive. We can feel happy when we give a homeless person $5 and an orange from our lunch. We can feel happy on a cold winter’s day as we snuggle up next to a fire with a mug of hot tea and a good book. We can feel happy when our team wins the World Series.
As scientists are apt to do they have constructed a blandish phrase to describe happiness. They call it “subjective well-being”. It is a rather comprehensive description though I would add one word: temporary.
Temporary subjective well-being encapsulates all the arguments for and against pursuing happiness. The Happy-Haters righteously point to the temporal nature of happiness as its fatal flaw. “Why not put your energy and time toward something more substantial,” they argue, “like joy or meaningfulness or sacrifice for others?” Ironically, we pursue joy, meaningfulness and personal sacrifice specifically to make ourselves feel happy.
What is the essence of living a happy, more satisfying life? In 2009 researchers from Southwest Minnesota State University observed an interesting phenomenon.
WINNING THE UNCONSCIOUS GAME
To play any game you must know the rules. However, just playing by the rules won’t give you any advantage. Everyone plays by the rules and the ones that don’t get ejected from the game. The fair unfair advantage comes from knowing the rules and exploiting any loopholes to your benefit. Exploiting loopholes is not cheating -- it’s smart.