Archive for Happiness

I recently visited the forests of southern Illinois, and enjoyed the beautiful sights, peaceful sounds, and fresh air of the Shawnee Forest.  It was nice to see some old familiar favorite places, and to explore and discover a couple new spots.

Taking walks in nature with my family are some of my favorite memories from when I was little, and I’ve been traipsing through the woods ever since.  When I was living in southern Illinois, the forest was 15 minutes away.  But now that I live near Chicago, it has become a special treat.

My trip reminded me once again of how good it feels to be out in nature.  Taking a walk is the perfect combination of relaxing and invigorating.  Watching a sunset over a lake is peaceful and soothing.  Taking photos is creatively stimulating and gratifying.  Time together with loved ones, sharing the experience and making memories, is emotionally intimate and meaningful.  Add to that perfect fall weather, and walla!  Just beautiful.

How rarely we get to experience this when living in a large metropolitan area!  It really makes me appreciate the people who have made it a point to set aside some metropolitan land for small parks and green areas. If you‘re one of those people, thank you.

People tend to underestimate the benefits of nature.

When predicting how time in nature will impact us, we expect less of a benefit than we actually get, according to a 2011 Carleton University study.  The study found that people…

felt more positive emotions after the natural walk than they did after the tunnel walk, but… underestimated the positive benefits of a natural walk and overestimated the positive benefits of the tunnel walk. The students in the natural walk condition also reported feeling more connected to nature, an association that was mediated by their more positive emotions.  (read entire article)

Benefits of spending time in nature

There are many benefits of spending time in nature.  A Scientific American article states,

Psychological research has shown that natural experiences help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote an overall increase in physical and psychological well-being. There is even evidence that hospital patients with a view of nature recover faster than do hospital patients without such a view. This line of research provides clear evidence that people are drawn to nature with good reason. It has restorative properties.

This article goes on to discuss four studies at the University of Rochester which showed that exposure to nature can make people more caring, and more intrinsically motivated.

In short, we become less self-focused and more other-focused. Our value priorities shift from personal gain, to a broader focus on community and connection with others.

There are also cognitive (mental) benefits.  For example, exposure to nature can help you focus.  One way to think of this is as the type of focusing that you can do when you are in a more peaceful environment… clearing your mind, focusing on your senses, being mindful in the moment (while in nature). This experience is soothing, relaxing and grounding.

Furthermore, studies at the University of Illinois linked green views from one’s window with better ability to focus and concentrate, and better memory.  Also, research at the University of Michigan showed that attention improved after an hour in nature.  (see this article for more details)

It’s no wonder that organizations are offering therapeutic wilderness programs.  Here is one organization that offers a well-cited list of reasons why nature is therapeutic.

It’s not too late!

For those of us here in the Chicago area, we are already feeling the chill of autumn.  People are making physical preparations for winter, and are bracing themselves emotionally for what is being predicted as a very snowy season this year.

I would suggest that, as part of your emotional preparation, you make it a point to spend as much time as you can outdoors, while it’s still comfortable.  Even if there’s a slight chill, throw on that hat and sweater and go for a walk in a nearby park or forest area.  Or take another trip or two to one of the larger nature reserves within a few hours drive, like Starved Rock, Turkey Run, or Brown County.  I’m relatively new to this area, so I’m sure you may know of others that you would enjoy, that might be even closer… perhaps in northern Illinois or Michigan.

Remember that a couple of recommendations for mood are to get a half hour of sun each day and to exercise.  Add the therapeutic benefits of nature to this, and you’ve got a great three-in-one plan!

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

 

Categories : Wellness
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Dec
06

5 Excellent Ideas for Reducing Distractions

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Marc Lesser offers five excellent and insightful ideas for reducing distractions.  They might not be what you would expect.

Here are five practices that can be useful tools in reducing distraction or frenetic activity and cultivating focus and concentration. They are surprisingly easy to implement and, almost before you know it, can become positive addictions.

1: Appreciate Impermanence

I saw a cartoon in a recent New Yorker magazine in which two people were finishing their dinners at a Chinese restaurant and had just opened their fortune cookies. One fortune read, “You are going to die.”

If you let this fact sink in — that life is short, and we all die — it can actually act as a powerful motivating force to help maintain focus and priorities. Everything changes and is impermanent, so are we fully present and making the most of this fleeting moment? Are we fully aware of what we are doing? Appreciating impermanence clarifies priorities,

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-practices-for-reducing-distractions.html#ixzz17Mm3v0NH

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
19

The Psychology of Pleasure by Nathaniel Branden – video

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I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness versus depression.  These two videos about the psychology of pleasure present some interesting food for thought, and help to clarify some of the dynamics that I often encounter in my work and in my life.  Very interesting.

Video 1:

(If you cannot see the video above, you can click this link to see it on YouTube.)

Video 2:

(If you cannot see the video above, you can click this link to see it on YouTube.)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Mental Health
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Nov
18

Reflections on my Trip to Latvia

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Riga

I recently returned from spending a few weeks in Latvia, the country where I was born.  I went with my mom, and it was a beautiful trip.  I used to spend my summers in Latvia until I was 7 years old, and I had only been there once before as an adult, so this was a very special trip.

One of the things I love about travel is that it fosters perspective, appreciation and understanding.  So I wanted to write a little about the insights and reminders this trip offered me.  Also, as a counselor, I naturally see things from a psychological perspective, so I will make note when what I’m discussing relates to useful psychological principles or to my work as a counselor.

Culture and Beauty

Architectural Detail in Riga

I wanted to see Latvia more clearly than ever before.  I wanted to have my eyes and ears, and heart open to a deeper understanding of my place of origin.  I was especially interested in getting to know my birth-city, Riga, the capital of Latvia.  And I also longed to refresh my sweet childhood memories of Latvia’s pine forests and seashore.

I couldn’t have done this near as well without assistance from my mom and her friend Valda, with whom we spent many days and who kindly drove us to places outside Riga.  My mom grew up in Riga, and was able to tell me about the meaning, history, legends and traditions that related to what we saw.  We explored the historic district, the parks and monuments, and museums.  We attended performances at theaters, the opera and ballet.  We paused to look at the art nouveau architecture and cathedrals… and we traveled outside of Riga, to castle ruins, forests, villages, historic sites and (my favorite) the seashore.  I took so many pictures, I still haven’t sorted through them all!

Creating Positive and Meaningful Experiences

River Scape

As a counselor, these activities remind me of the importance of creating positive and meaningful experiences for oneself.  Such things don’t just happen automatically.  You have to seek them out.

For example, in Chicago, near where I live, there are countless opportunities to learn about history, see performances and culture, and go to museums.  And being on a budget is no excuse for opting out.  If you plan ahead, there are free activities in the city, and free days at museums.  It’s just a matter of deciding what you’re interested in, and making it a point to seek that out.  It is especially important for people struggling with depression to engage in such life-enriching activities.  We in Chicagoland are lucky that we don’t have to travel far for the perks of city life.

Also in rural areas there are positive and meaningful things to do, historic places to visit, natural beauty to enjoy, and ways to be involved in the community or in the arts.  But you’ve got to make it happen.  It usually requires a deliberate decision.

The Sun and the Song

Speaking of being positive… On my trip, I was reminded that Latvians uphold the sun as their cultural symbol (since ancient times), and that they assert the identity of their nation through song.  What wonderfully bright and positive symbols they have!  Very uplifting.  This is a great example of affirmation, not just on an individual level, but on a national level.

Here’s a lovely example of Latvian folk music about the sun (with beautiful photos to boot.)

Latvia’s annual song festival is an expression of one small nation’s uncrushable perseverance, endurance and optimism.  The beauty of the human spirit has prevailed there against all odds.

Occupation, Oppression and Trauma

Historic Fortification Wall in Riga

Against all odds?  This brings me to the ever-present undercurrent in almost any news event you hear about while in Latvia, in almost any political debate, and in the lives of almost anyone you meet.  The occupation.  Actually, there have been many occupations in Latvia over the last 800 years… by Germans, Swedes, Poles… but most recently and most significantly, by the Russians.

As a therapist I sometimes work with posttraumatic stress disorder, so I’m familiar with the impact trauma can have on individuals and families.  But this is trauma on a much larger scale.  The whole country (and more) was traumatized, and the scars are still there.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

I learned about mass killings, mass deportations, horrifically cruel mistreatment and torture, tyrannical rule, and cultural oppression.  The thing that struck me while at the Museum of Occupation, was hearing a couple people around me whispering about their own families’ stories.  One even pointed to a photograph in the display, saying that was her father.  The stories were horrible.

Former KGB Headquarters in Riga

Many Americans don’t know much about the conditions in countries that were occupied by the Soviets after WWII.  Latvia was behind the iron curtain, inaccessible to Western journalists.  I have much appreciation for the resistance and the revolutionaries, many of whom suffered greatly and lost their lives, in an effort to regain Latvia’s freedom from tyrannical communist rule.

Many thousands were deported by railroad.

Understanding Oppression

As a counselor, I feel that Latvia’s oppression helps me to understand a little more about what oppressed people anywhere must suffer.  Luckily, I was too young to understand the political situation while living in Communist Poland and Latvia.  Also, I know that each situation is unique.  But I think I can say that I understand the gravity of oppression more than I would have if my family had not experienced it.  Therefore, I am more mindful of the oppression suffered, for example, by minority groups and the indigenous people of America.  This sometimes proves relevant in my work.

Personal Accounts

The Museum of Occupation included many personal accounts of how things were during WWII and the occupation.  I also heard stories about my mom’s family, and the bags they kept packed and ready by the back door, in case the Soviets suddenly came to deport them, as they did to meet their quotas, often randomly.  I also heard some stories from my mom’s friends, and saw artistic representations of oppression.

Rather than trying to convey the full weight of what I learned, I will let this poem sum it up for you.  This is a poem, on display at the Museum of Occupation, that conveys the thoughts of a Latvian coming back from Siberian exile, still during the years of the occupation.

My feet no longer know how to walk free.
How many years have yet to pass
for signs of shame to be erased from soul and face?
How many years have yet to pass
until the fear will disappear
in breezes through the fields of rye
and in the tristar light of native night?
How to approach you, Latvia, who’s still in chains?
As yet my heart does not suspect its fall
into the thistles and the nettle fields
around my father’s farm.
Free from banishment, my heart is rejoicing –
Not yet suspecting coming harm.

(translated from the Latvian by Valters Nollendorfs)

But the story did not end there.

Freedom Monument

In 1991, Latvia finally regained its independence, and the Freedom Monument in the center of Riga stands once again in a free country.

The country showed its resilience through enormous economic growth for almost two decades after regaining its sovereignty.  It joined the European Union.  And then it suffered in the economic collapse of 2008, along with much of the rest of the world.

The current economic pressures are immense.  One fifth of the country’s population has left Latvia in the last couple years, to seek jobs elsewhere.  I wondered whether I would see extreme poverty in Riga on my trip, but somehow the city endures, beautiful and full of life.  It is as vibrant with its many shops, galleries and cafes as my neighbor, Chicago.  However, I knew that Riga’s poverty was just under the surface (as it is in many cities today).

Self Reliance and Direct Living

One of my mom’s friends, and her family, who live on very limited income, impressed me with their resourcefulness.  Not only do they eat almost entirely the yields of their own garden, and the meat their nephew hunts, but they had built their own beautiful house out in the country… by hand!  Amazing.

I believe many of us have lost such skills (or even such ambitions) through the luxury of being able to pay others to grow our food and build our houses for us.  I, for one, am far removed from such direct living.  This has its advantages, because it gives me plenty of time to focus on my work, and it gives me leisure time.  But there is certainly something I admire about self-reliance and living in direct contact with the earth, the seasons, and nature.

Direct Living and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Grapevines

If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you might think that a family such as the one I just described is stuck at the fundamental level of providing for their biological needs.  However, it appeared to me that knowing where their food would come from freed them up to attend to their higher order needs.  Working together in this way enriched their relationships with each other, added to their self-esteem and self-confidence, was a continual learning experience and a way to actively engage in life, still allowed time to socialize, read or play music, and allowed more money toward travel and cultural experiences (rather than just food).  Gardening also provides them the aesthetic of nature and good food.  So all the needs on Maslow’s hierarchy are addressed in this way.

Country Scene

Just imagine sitting on the steps of the home you built after a productive day of gardening… sipping your own blend of tea, looking over your garden and the country landscape beyond.  Perhaps someday I can have a similar scene in my life.

I believe that this sort of direct living (despite the financial stress that sometimes makes it necessary), is very much in line with Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.  Self-actualization is the motivation and effort toward realizing one’s potentials.  I talk about the importance of moving toward your personal potential on my homepage.  Not only is this a source of purpose and meaning in life, but a great source of joy and satisfaction.

Self-actualization includes what Maslow called “peak experiences… peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an ‘ultimate truth’ and the unity of all things… the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe… he  feels at one with the world, and is pleased with it… They are moments when you feel more at one with yourself and the world, more integrated.  You feel happy, even ecstatic, interconnected and in harmony.”

You may want to ask yourself, “What in my life has triggered such feelings?”  Or, what could?  I encourage you to pursue the image that comes to mind.

City-gardens in the US

Along the theme of how gardening can enrich one’s life, I have heard of some economically devastated cities in the US, which are starting city-gardens for people to grow their own vegetables and fruit.  I think this is a wonderful idea.  Not only would it enrich the nutrition of the people who participate in it, but it would be a way for families to spend time together, it would make the cities more beautiful, it would be a learning experience in self-reliance, and it would bring participants a sense of self-esteem and achievement.

The Value of Loving-Kindness

“A Gift” Architectural Detail

Coming back to my trip to Latvia… taking such a trip with my mom also reminded me of the value of loving-kindness.  I can’t remember where I read this, but I recently read that the love between family members is not there automatically, as a guaranteed by-product of being related; but rather, it is the outcome of the quality of the experiences that they have shared.  This immediately made sense to me.

If you have had primarily negative experiences with certain family members, then you would be less likely to feel love, despite years spent together.  If, on the other hand, you feel cared for, encouraged, appreciated, supported, respected, important, and loved; and have replied in kind, then you would be more likely to feel love for the family members with whom you share these feelings and experiences.

In other words, love is something that needs to be nurtured, actively cultivated, and communicated through interactions.  And both people in any relationship play a role (except young children or individuals who are too disabled to be mindful of others or to love deliberately).  Here again (as with creating positive experiences) we see the power of intention and deliberate action.

Gottman’s Fondness and Admiration

I agree with Dr. John Gottman that this culture of fondness and admiration is mostly cultivated in the little moments of life… through paying attention to each other, staying connected about what’s going on in each other’s lives, being interested and curious, and also through being mindful and supportive in little day-to-day ways.  Even when living hundreds of miles apart, like me and my mom, this is possible through regular contact by phone, e-mail, Skype, mail, and occasional visits.  (By the way, if you have family or friends who live far away, and you still haven’t tried Skype, why not click this link and give it a try?  It’s not hard, the basic software is free, and even if you don’t have a camera, you could connect for free by voice and possibly see the other person if they have a camera.)

If fondness is not present, then taking a vacation together might not be especially enjoyable (though you could use the time to work through whatever is keeping you apart).  But if fondness is present, then taking a vacation can be a wonderful way to add even more meaningful, positive, and loving memories to the relationship.  I realize that Gottman primarily talks about these dynamics in the context of marital therapy, but I believe the same dynamics apply to other relationships as well.

Thank you, mom.

With mom at Jurmala seashore

I want to thank my mom for inviting me on this beautiful trip to the country we both came from.  I also want to thank her for her loving heart, for always trying to do what is best for her kids, for continually reaching out to me (even through the difficult times), for her patience and forgiveness, and for the fun times we’ve shared.  I love you!

Encouragement for Strained Relationships

I hope that this part of my story can serve as encouragement to those who are currently working through difficulties in their relationships.  Relationships aren’t always easy, but if you both honestly keep working at it, you could uncover a precious gem that lights up your life.

Perspective on my Roots

Our old neighborhood

Taking this trip with my mom gave me the opportunity not only to connect with my past, but also with her past.  Seeing the neighborhood where she grew up, the schools she went to, the parks where she played as a kid, meeting some of her friends, and talking about my ancestors; all gave me more perspective on our lives, an understanding of the forces that shaped her life (and thus mine), and an ability to relate on a deeper level.

I believe it is important and meaningful to try to understand the forces that shape our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, or the lives of others whom we want to understand.  Thus, it is also important and meaningful to pass along your stories (and your family’s stories) to younger generations, along with the wisdom that was acquired along the way.

For me, this was especially helpful because it also provided me a sense of continuity… much needed in a life of repeatedly moving; from one country to another, one state to another, and one city to another.

Fun, Pastries and the Seashore

Historic District in Riga

One very important 😉 thing I got some perspective on is the quality of pastries and cakes.  What a joy to sample the great variety of delicacies in Riga!  It is one of life’s mysteries why Americans, in our world of plenty, would chose to limit ourselves to such a small variety of sweet concoctions.  The combinations of subtle and intense flavors, the unique textures, the natural ingredients, the variations on classical themes, and our appreciation of the not-always-overly-sweet kept me and my mom busy popping into one café or bakery after another.  This, of course, was in addition to the old-fashioned Latvian cuisine we sought out every day, and the amazingly abundant farmers’ markets, with fresh food not just from Latvia, but from all over the

Farmers’ Market

world.  By the way, I wasn’t too worried about the calories since we walked many miles each day, and since I’m back to my normal routines now that I’m home.

We had fun checking out tourist shops, amber jewelry stores, book stores, antique stores, and the wonderful scenery in Riga’s historic district.  We enjoyed spending time with my mom’s friends, and I had lots of fun taking pictures everywhere we went.

Some of mom’s friends

And true to my memories, I enjoyed taking a nice long walk at the seashore.  It was too cold to swim in October, but there’s something special about the sea.  It is the place I remember best from my childhood, and it is one of the simple pleasures in my life to look out over a vast expanse of water, and at the clouds above.  It brought back memories of playing in the sand as a kid, and reminded me of funny stories from long ago.  The image of the tall pine trees and cute cottages at Latvia’s beaches will always be one that makes me smile.

Coming Home

After a couple weeks in Latvia, I was ready to come home to Tinley Park, IL.  If I had stayed any longer I would have shifted into simple living mode (rather than tourist mode)… something I was looking forward to doing back home.

Getting back into my usual routines, reconnecting with my husband, feeling productive at work, and reflecting on my experiences in Latvia has been a joy.  Here is my place in the world now, and it is a comfortable and satisfying one.  Latvia is a part of my past that I was glad to see again.  It puts my present in perspective, and it helps me appreciate what I have, while also clarifying some dreams that I have for my future (a garden perhaps?).

Why Did I Share This?

I decided to share this experience with my readers because it was meaningful to me, because it helps my readers to get to know me a little better, and because it illustrates how psychology applies and relates to real life situations.

I hope that through this article, as through all my other posts, I might encourage you to reflect on your own life, and to think about your relationships, about psychology, and about ways to enrich your life and seek your own potentials and dreams.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from the seashore:

Categories : Mental Health
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Therapeutic Talk

When I ask people what they found helpful in therapy, they often say that just talking about things made a big difference for them.  Talking about the substantial things in life can help you to gain insight, learn about your difficulties, identify needed changes, have a sense of direction, and feel supported in your efforts.

Social Support

However, therapy is not the only place where you could talk about topics of substance.  I recommend that people think of their social support system as a foundation of a structure.  The smallest number of supports needed to have a stable structure is three, like a tripod.  Who can you talk to about your concerns, dreams, struggles and achievements?  Do you have at least three points of support?  Points of support could include friends, family, a spiritual community or pastor, a support group or therapy group, and/or a counselor.  You could also consider sources of information as points of support, if they help you to reflect on important topics.  So books and certain websites, especially interactive ones, could count too.

Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance

Of course talking about issues of substance need not be limited to your personal joys and challenges.  There are many philosophical, spiritual, social, political, scientific, and technological topics that are very meaningful.  Interestingly, recent research has found that happy people tend to spend more time talking about topics of substance.

Happy people tend to talk more than unhappy people, but when they do, it tends to be less small talk and more substance, a new study finds.

A group of psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis set out to find whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to have.

(Click to continue reading Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance)  By the way, if you follow this link, you will find several additional interesting links to more information about the science of happiness.

So next time you talk to someone, don’t limit yourself to just small talk.  Let them know what you’ve really been thinking about and why its meaningful to you.  And find out what’s really going on for them too.  Or, why not investigate a meaningful topic and share what you’ve learned?  Taking your conversations to a deeper level can help you not just to reflect on topics of substance, but also to connect with others in more meaningful ways.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Relationships
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Jan
11

50 Best Spiritual Books of 2009

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In my counseling practice, people often tell me how important spirituality is to them, and how helpful it is not only in dealing with problems, but also in living fully, meaningfully and with satisfaction. Indeed, research has shown that, overall, people who have a spiritual or religious practice tend to cope better and be happier.

If you are interested in expanding or deepening your spiritual practice, you might like this website which I recently found, thanks to a friend.  It is called Spirituality and Practice: Resources for Spiritual Journeys.  They have a great list of spiritual practices (not traditions) in the right hand column on their home page.  They are an interfaith website, with information and ideas from, for and about Catholics, Zen Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and more.  They tend to focus on those areas where all the world’s spiritual traditions overlap and agree.

50 Best Spiritual Books of 2009

One article that caught my attention was about 50 Best Spiritual Books of 2009.  I encourage you to look the list over.  I bet that at least one of the books listed will sound interesting to you.  Thank you, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, for taking the time to review and recommend so many great books.

Every year from the more than 300 books we review on this website, we choose 50 “best spiritual books.” These are the titles that have most impressed and inspired us, and since we only review books that we want to recommend to you for your spiritual journey, this selection actually represents the best of the best.

We have organized this list by a major theme or spiritual practice covered in the book. These headings are just to make it easier for you to find the books you might be most interested in; they are not subcategories of the awards.

Through diverse approaches, drawing upon the wisdom and practices of the world’s religions, these titles explore the quest for meaning and purpose, wholeness and healing, commitment and community, contemplation and social activism.

We congratulate the authors and publishers of these exceptional contributions to today’s spiritual renaissance…  (Click to see the list and reviews of the recommended spiritual books.)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Wellness
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Jul
05

Our Need for Beauty

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We need beauty in our lives

I don’t see this written about very much, but I firmly believe that we all need beauty in our lives.  You may encounter it accidentally, as when happening to notice a particularly beautiful sunset or landscape; but generally I think most of us could do more to seek it out.  As with any positive experiences, we need to do our part in reaching out towards beauty, as well as recognizing, acknowledging and appreciating it once we do encounter it.

It may be with any of our senses, especially sound and sight, or it may be with our minds or hearts that we perceive beauty.  I encounter it on my nature walks, in listening to music, in witnessing kindness, and in contemplating the universe, among others.  When is the last time you intentionally sought out beauty?  Perhaps you do it every day, even in small ways like appreciating the perfectly balanced cup of tea.  Did you know that research has found that people who notice the sky more tend to be happier people?  It’s something so simple… so accessible.

Of course, one of the wonderful things about beauty, is when you can share it with someone.  Therefore, here are a few moments of beauty for all of you:

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Jun
01

Creating Positive Experiences

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I’m back from a brief vacation, and getting back to work.  I didn’t go anywhere this time, but chose to explore the Chicago area with my mom (and sometimes with my husband) during her visit.  Since moving to Tinley Park, a Chicago suburb, last summer, I have been focused on my counseling work and on settling into my new surroundings.  This last week was a great opportunity to explore more of Chicago, including some of the Polish neighborhoods (where I can find foods that remind me of my childhood), downtown, and the beautiful botanic garden.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes vacations feel busier than normal life?

Creating positive experiences is fundamental to mental health

I’m telling you this partly to share with you what I’ve been up to, and partly to illustrate a point.  The point being that creating positive experiences, and sharing them with loved ones, is a fundamental and necessary aspect of life and happiness.  This may seem obvious, but I have been amazed by how many people I have talked to who could not remember the last time they had done something enjoyable, just for the fun of it.

Creating positive experiences is part of emotion regulation

The importance of building positive experiences is emphasized in wellness literature, depression literature, and in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  You can’t wait for them to just happen, you have to create them.  In doing so, you create a life worth living, and balance out the struggles and problems which are unavoidable.

There are short term positive experiences, like soothing with the five senses, chatting with someone, or enjoying a treat.  And there are long term positive experiences, like getting an education, building relationships, working toward goals, or learning a skill.  A few tips come to mind:

  • Balance the short term and long term positive experiences, and know when it is worth it to sacrifice short term enjoyment for long term benefits.
  • Keep in mind that everyone has to start at square one.  Building a skill or hobby takes time, and it is important to allow yourself imperfection as you learn.
  • Always have something you can look forward to that day or that week… even if it is just a cup of tea at sunset, a walk, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Build some fun skills that you enjoy (art, sports, games, etc.), and don’t forget to challenge yourself.

What’s your hobby?

During my vacation I took some photos.  This is one of my hobbies, although I am still quite a beginner.  It’s fun in the short run, can be challenging, and it becomes even more satisfying as I learn more about it.  With today’s digital cameras, it is much more affordable than it used to be when people had to use film.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from the botanic garden, which I took during my vacation.  The last flower (the pink one) is a photo my mom took.

Red Tulips

Cactus Center

Poppy Field

Side of Cactus

Yellow Flower

Leafy Cactus

Mom's Flower

Categories : Wellness
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Mar
09

Extraordinary Life

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I love these wonderfully cheesy videos that remind us what to strive for.  Sometimes one line might pop out that connects with something I’m going through right now.  Sometimes I might not be in the mood for this sort of video… and that’s exactly when it’s most helpful to watch it!  Consider it an injection of a positive attitude into your day.

If you’re looking for counseling and mental health services in Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, and the surrounding area, please call 708-429-6999 to set up an appointment or to ask questions. Tinley Park counseling service, Oak Forest counseling service, Orland Park counseling service. Call today.

Anda Jines MS, LCPC, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Offering counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago

Categories : Wellness
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Mar
05

March on. Do not tarry.

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“March on.  Do not tarry.  To go forward is to move toward perfection.  March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.”

-Kahlil Gibran

This poem from Kahlil Gibran encourages us to have perseverance and to willingly engage life fully, despite life’s risks.  In this sense, it matches my post on the fundamentals of happiness.

If you’re looking for counseling and mental health services in Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, and the surrounding area, please call 708-429-6999 to set up an appointment or to ask questions. Tinley Park counseling service, Oak Forest counseling service, Orland Park counseling service. Call today.

Anda Jines MS, LCPC, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Offering counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago

Categories : Wellness
Comments Comments Off on March on. Do not tarry.

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