Often times, when we hear “home” for the holidays, we assume that we’re supposed to go back to our place of origin in order to celebrate the joy of the season. However, I see in my practice a frightening number of people experiencing emotional setbacks, anxiety, and increased feelings of depression surrounding the holidays- and much of these feelings have to do with implicit expectations of them around this time of year.

 

More and more people are starting to ask themselves what it is that they want. When I think about the moments I cherish most every holiday season- its not the rushing around from home to home, sitting in airport terminals, and listening to my 3rd cousin talk about her porcelain doll collection. It is spending time with those I value most, watching old black and white movies, and sipping something hot and minty.

 

This holiday season, ask yourself what it is that you want. Ask yourself who it is you want to be around, and what you want to be doing. What activities or events signal to your deepest self, your heart, your soul- that this is a special time of year?

 

When you take the time to ask yourself what it is you truly want and manifest that in your life- there is true peace on earth, and THAT is the greatest gift of all. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.” Dr. Colleen maintains a private practice in Hermosa Beach and works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships, body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

“You can look at the world as mostly friendly, or mostly hostile – either way you’ll find evidence to support both.” – Albert Einstein

 

I love this quote. It encapsulates the power of perception. Shakespeare also seemed to agree in that he once said “life is neither heaven nor hell, but as one thinks it. ”  The flavor of our world depends so much on how we choose to view it.

 

One of the first assignments I give to my clients is the “what went well” exercise. This has been proven through research to boost one’s mood by focusing on three things that went well each day. However, many clients don’t see results soon enough and stop early, or just get too busy with life to take a few moments to smell the roses.

 

So here is another idea to stop and take notice of the things that have gone and are going really well in your life- pictures. Many of you have a personal computer by now. Most of you have your pictures on your computer. By going in to the settings tab and changing your screen saver to “slideshow,” and using the directory that holds your pictures- whenever you get a couple of free moments, your computer will start to remind you of all the things that are going really well in your life.

 

For those of you who have the iphone or ipad, FotoFrame Hub is an excellent application that imports all of your facebook photos, and turns your device into a digital photo frame.

 

To take it one step further, play some happy and meaningful music while viewing your slideshow of life. Some recommendations to get you started:

1) Israel Kamakawi’wole (spelling?) – Somewhere Over the Rainbow

2) Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

3) Chris Botti/Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

 

If you can find 10 minutes today, I think it’s worth your time, to bring a little gratitude and happiness back into perspective. Life’s too short to feel anything else.

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Colleen maintains a private practice in Hermosa Beach and works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

 

 

 

 

 

Many times self-help books are the first stop for up to an estimated 80% of the American population when experiencing sadness, stress, anxiety, or just plain discontentment with life. People tend to turn, first, to a book instead of stepping in a therapist’s office to save time, money, and some times- perceived social stigma.

Although research has found therapy to be the best course of treatment for most clinical mental health issues- self help books can often be very helpful in giving the reader at least a step in the right direction. Here are my top ten recommendations to get you started:

1)  Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
He started by teaching Psychology 101 to a class of 100 Harvard students, which immediately began to grow to thousands, including members of the press and media wanting to know the secrets to happiness. His book is a practical, no-frills guide to what makes us happy, and one of my greatest inspirations to study happiness while in grad school.

2)   Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman- Martin Seligman is pretty much the father of the positive psychology movement, and he pretty much sets the foundation for why what we do makes us happy…Coming from a strong academic background, his books due tend to be a bit more research laced, but nonetheless an important read.

3) The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

Mark Williams (Author), John Teasdale (Author), Zindel Segal (Author), Jon Kabat-Zinn (Author)- This books sets the foundation for why it is so important to engage in daily meditation, and why it is so important to be present in our emotions vs. avoiding them.

4) Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness by James Baraz andShoshana Alexander - although a bit higher on the cheese factor/chicken soup for the soul-esque, this book is chock full of brilliant quotes about what makes us truly happy, and intertwined with real life experience to apply the concepts.

5) A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose  by Eckhart Tolle- Tolle has an amazing ability to convey his sense of peace and calm through his writing. This book solidifies his ideas in The power of now, about staying in the present moment, and how we default to thinking about the past or future which is usually unnecessary

6) Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E: What We Know Now, About Happiness (Volume 1) - Paperback (Apr. 20, 2011) by Dr. Colleen Long- Of course I would be remiss if I did not include my own book on happiness, which is the culmination of what I’ve learned from the proceeding books, as well as what I observed during graduate training, about the techniques that seemed to change my patients’ lives the most

7) The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (Mar 1, 2011)- The thing I love about her book is that she is a real person. She just wanted to feel happier and began to be more pro-active about putting happiness back into her life. She is a beautiful demonstration of how one can have all the “things,” we think we want, but nothing we actually need.

8) Kabbalah: The Power to Change Everything by Yehuda Berg- This book was one of the first spiritually based books I read, that got me thinking about radically changing the way I approach life. Instead of always focusing on how to get ahead, and focusing on how to help others get ahead- your life spiritually transforms in a way it could never do before. Some of the mysticism and mathematics get a little off track and lose the reader, but it is a great spiritual foundation for happiness.

9) The Spiritual Rules of Engagement: How Kabbalah Can Help Your Soul Mate Find You by Yehuda Berg (Apr 28, 2008)- If you read this book, you’ll never have to read anything else about how to find, and maintain a successful relationship with your partner. It completely sums up the role of the ego and how it can deter us from reaching lasting fulfillment and love.

10) Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne W. Dyer (Jan 1, 2009) – Yes also a bit higher on the cheese factor, Wayne Dyer gives me the “motivational speaker” heebie jeebies sometimes, but this book is phenomenal. The Tao was laid down long ago, and it’s wisdom still applies today. I would recommend getting the audio version of this, and listening to a little bit each day on your ride in to work.

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

 

Yes it has been some time since I last posted on the Happiness Rx. The Happiness Doc just got licensed and is happier than ever! However I realized this morning, I’ve been focusing so much on building my practice that I’ve ironically neglected the whole reason I got into this field- helping YOU!

So back to the drawing board we go. The topic that seems to be most salient on my mind at the moment is toxicity- the arch- nemesis of one’s happiness. I got to thinking about how toxicity plays out in some of my clients’ lives. Sometimes it is through anger, gossip, judgement, resentment, or an unwillingness to forgive.

I recently heard someone say- “not forgiving someone for something they’ve done is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I love that quote, and it is the basis of today’s blog.

When we engage in behaviors aimed at righting another’s wrong, controlling someone else, or getting “even,” – we actually do more harm to ourselves than anyone else. Have you ever stepped back and observed how you feel after a juicy gossip session, or after having the last word? Usually, it isn’t a good feeling, or if it is- it is mostly temporary, leaving us feeling worse than we did before.

We are biologically programmed to engage in most of our toxic thinking. For example, let’s look at the concept of judgement. If we weren’t able to judge, we’d never be able to learn that lions like eating us and exactly how far away they are from us across the plains thousands of years ago. However, our evolutionary pre-programming is no longer working for us. We are not facing the same challenges we faced thousands of years ago. Yet we are still riddled with the angst and negativity our judgmental minds result in.

Our minds give us the sense that judging someone else, becoming self-righteous, cheating someone else, having the upper hand, or getting angry is somehow going to feel good. Yet if we can become the observer of the mind, increase our emotional intelligence, and realize how toxic these actions are to our happiness- we can slowly, over time, plant the seeds of true peace and contentment.

I truly do believe that there is a karmic reaction in our universe. If we put out bad things (even if no one is looking) we will get bad things. Conversely, if we do good- we get good. I have seen this spiritual principle work in my life, as well as my clients.

Today, try to be mindful of all the openings for toxicity to come into your life, and practice doing opposite action. If you are pulled into an office gossip pool, resist the temptation to lazily-bond and remove yourself from the room. If you see a deliciously evil quip on facebook, hide it and post something kind and inspirational to your followers. If your significant other pushes a button, resist trying to get in that witty comeback, and do something nice for them. You will be awestruck at how your mood starts to elevate and your life begins to transform.

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

Each year around my birthday, I try to make a list to encapsulate things I have learned in that year. Since this is the Happiness Rx and many of the people that visit this site are interested in self-improvement and making their life the happiest it can be- I thought this might be relevant this year.

 

1. Take it easy, life gets better when you take it slow

2. If you want love, give love

3. Make sure while life is in progress, you have a good time, no one else is going to do it for you…play scrabble, laugh at an old SNL, have conversations with high-pitched opera voices (not that ive ever done that)

4. Try to sit still at least 10 minutes a day, even if it has to be on your toilet, it will change your life

5. Judgement is an express train to depression since judging others ultimately judges ourselves and breeds isolation

6. If you want to feel more positive, do more positive- I’ve yet to meet a happy gossiper

7. Make yourself a priority at the beginning of the day, if you wait until the end- you never will

8. Happiness is a decision most of us have to make over and over again throughout each day

9. No one really thinks about our clothes, our hair, our fancy titles, or our careers/families as much as we worry they do, they’re too busy thinking you’re worrying about theirs

10. Getting angry, reactive, or frustrated doesn’t really hurt anyone but yourself

11. Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you any place

12. Its likely that whatever you are worrying about in this moment, probably will be insignificant 6 months from now, so release it and let it go

13. That which we cannot let go of, we will never have

14. 99% of the time- don’t take it personally, others actions are usually never about us even if they involve us

15. God = Love, Ego= Edging God Out, whenever we are reactive, bitter, jealous, getting even, having the last word, and/or fearful- we are feeding the ego, starve it and start to experience a greater amount of love and peace

16. The only way to experience the 9′s and 10′s of life are to fully experience the 1′s and 2′s (you gotta be in the valleys to experience the peaks…etc)

17. The point of life is not to speed it up (Ghandi)

18. Daily life is much more enjoyable if we start out each day with a clean slate as we did as children…free of misperceptions, stories about what has happened before, preconceived notions, judgements, etc

19. Being happy doesn’t always mean being comfortable

20. Perceive badly, feel badly

21. If you’re bored, you’re probably being a boring person

22. You must yourself become a whole before ever adequately becoming someone else’s other half, and even then no one person ever totally completes you

23. A relationship is about what you can give, not what you can get

24. Don’t just act nice towards others, feel nice towards others- they can feel the difference and so can you, feeling happiness outwardly also fills us inwardly

25. Moods are like busses, if you’re in a bad one, step off and realize another one will come around in fifteen minutes

26. The love we give and receive is the only thing we take with us in the end

27. There is strength in flexibility, the same reason the solid land crumbles before the sea

28. The people who are the meanest towards you, probably need the most love and compassion

29. The potential to experience happiness, contentment, joy, god, and love is not occurring in some far off land, or some designated place in time once you fulfill all you “need” to do…god, love, peace exists within all of us right this very moment, and all you have to do is breathe instead of think, be instead of do

30. The waves of life won’t bother us if we realize we are the ocean

31. Never take life too seriously, no one gets out alive anyway

 

Want to try meditation, but don’t know how?? Dr. Colleen’s meditation cd’s are now available for sale! Click here to purchase

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E,” and “Meditation Medication.”  Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

You’ve done it every year. You make a resolution to change- to be healthier, to be a better person, to lose that pesky 20 lbs, but somewhere around spring break you find yourself falling back into the same old habits of the years before. To truly implement change, you must overcome potential obstacles before they overcome you and to do that, it takes building an action plan or personal strategy. Here is an example of one to get you started …

 

So this year, maybe you want to be more spiritually connected, you want to meditate more, want to be a better friend, want to learn and challenge yourself, but so far life has gotten in your way. You wait to check off all your to-do’s before you just be and therefore become what Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to as a “human doing,” vs. “human being.”

 

Somewhere along the line, you start to feel off balance and out of touch with the extraordinary way of living you always envisioned and instead, find yourself just getting by like the proverbial hamster on a wheel. So what might one do to get back in touch with an extraordinary way of being this New Year?

 

Start by listing all of the things you know go into keeping you balanced and fulfilled:

Ex:

1) Meditation

2) Exercise

 

3) Healthy eating

4) Cultivating friendships

 

Now, ask yourself, “when am I most likely to get these things done?” Are you more efficient when you first wake in the morning, or at night- after all the family has gone to sleep and you’ve had your coffee for the day?

 

Next, create a detailed action plan to begin implementing these things into your daily regimen. To avoid pitfalls, you must first identify any unique obstacles that might get in your way of success in 2011:

Ex.

1) I know if I don’t exercise at the beginning of the day, I will have come up with 23 excuses why I don’t need to by the afternoon

Answer–> You’ve identified that you need to exercise before doing anything else that day. You may have to make sure your work out bag is laid out the night before (shoes, water bottle, ipod, etc.).

2) I know that by the end of the day, I don’t think as clearly and find that I make poorer decisions then.

Answer–> You’ve identified that you are a clearer thinker early in the day. So maybe this is when you sit down to plan your meals for the week, and do your grocery shopping.

3) It seems that when I wake up in the morning, my thoughts are racing with all the things I need to do for the day. I don’t ever feel like I can rest until I’ve checked off my to-do list.

Answer–> You’ve identified that you are probably more apt to have an effective and calming meditation session later in the day, when you’ve been able to check off most of your to-do list for the day.

 

After identifying obstacles and developing strategies to overcome them, begin to schedule them into your week as you would important appointments. By engaging in this behavior, week after week, you begin to make your well-being and happiness just as much of a priority as you do your weekly errands (and why shouldn’t our happiness take precedence over dry cleaning, dentist exams, and grocery shopping?).

 

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens, while we’re busy making other plans.” Instead of whittling down your list of  “I should’s,” why not begin planning to actually live your life- today?

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the resident psychologist at oBand and the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E.”  Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560

It’s been a while since posting on the Happiness Rx. In the past few months, I successfully took the licensure exam, got licensed as a psychologist and signed a full time contract with oBand- the surgery center I did my internship with for the last year!

 

Yet, I am still maintaining a small private practice one day a week and think about those of you who I no longer see…especially around this time of year.

 

If you have been out of the loop (like me) for a while, this blog’s for you :)

 

It seems, as we get older, the holidays bring a mixed bag of feelings for all of us. I see an influx of new clients coming into therapy, realizing for maybe the first time, that they don’t want the holidays next year, to be like the one currently. I also, unfortunately, start seeing less of some of my long-time clients. The holidays tend to strain many financially. They also require us to travel for miles and miles, catching up with loved ones, and just generally catching up on all of the normal to-do’s along with our holiday shopping.

So even if you can’t get back into therapy for a while- use this moment to evaluate if you are truly having a “Happy Holiday.” Here are some things to think about:

- Are you making travel plans to appease everyone else, or are you pleasing yourself?

- Are you spending quality time with your loved ones, or spending too much money trying to make sure you get everyone the perfect gift?

- Often this time of year brings up old family dynamics, what are you better able to notice as a result of your own personal work? How do you respond vs. react?

- During this time of year, its quite normal to yearn to recapture that sense of innocence and hopefulness we once possessed as children. What obstacles are getting in your way from being happy today? Are there old scripts and stories you are allowing in?

- They say “tis better to give than to receive,” …Are you spending some extra time this holiday season thinking about how you might make someone else’s holiday a bit brighter. This is one of the most effective ways to lifting stress and anxiety. Here’s a link to start –> Volunteer in Los Angeles

I hope every single one of you have a moment of utter and complete bliss this holiday season, where you feel loved, loving, and warm. You make my work (and my entire life) blessed and full every time I feel I am able to provide you with help, and that is what I am truly grateful for this holiday season.

 

Thank you, Colleen

 

 

 

 

Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E.” She practices in Beverly Hills . Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships,  body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. All public speaking/media event requests handled through FreudTV (info@FreudTV.com).

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