by Beth Greenstein, LCSW Social Worker extraordinaire
North Star Center, Boca Raton, Fl
561-0500 ext. 40

Three mental paths

Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage notes we have three mental paths when we are faced with adversity:

1. We can keep circling around, have no change, and end up exactly the same as when we started out.

2. We can be worse off then we started. This results in us being more afraid of conflict and challenge or

3. We can pursue a path that results in us being stronger and more capable after the crisis.

Sounds great but, is it doable?

Absolutely. Take Fred, not happy about being on dialysis. Who could be? He was only 60, retired due to a heart condition, widowed and because of his disability, living with his sister and his brother-in-law. Hard to tell which one of those two are the craziest!

So, he couldn’t help it. Told himself it was all unfair and boy, was he was pissed! Then to make matters worse, he now can’t have ice cream, couldn’t go on extended weekend trips whenever he wanted. Add to this the fun of being stuck by a needle. No, it gets better.

He wakes up one morning, gets ready to come to that clinic and guess what, he has none of that vibration stuff going on in his arm. It happened not one month but the following month again! Now he gets to enjoy spending another few hours arranging to get the thing going again, rushing to one of those Access places and having to spend his usual day off doing back to dialysis!

How about Jose! He is only 26, should be going clubbing at night, maybe finished with college and ready to show the world his stuff. But, nooooo! He gets to spend nights tied up to that PD machine. Yea, he knows, at least he has his days free. Right! What about the never-ending doctor appointments, the constant work-up for transplant? Do those people ever answer their phone!

As Anchor goes on to say “Happiness is not about lying to ourselves or forgetting negative experience but adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above the circumstances.”

ABC approach

So, there’s what is called the ABC approach, easy enough to remember!
A-The adversity, we can’t change it
B- The belief about it, whether we think the problem is solvable
C- The consequence of our belief
D- the disputation – telling ourselves our thought IS A BELIEF NOT A FACT!

For example, Fred tells himself, “I am helpless, I have to have dialysis if I want to live”
Jose says,”It's’ all my families fault, they gave me the genes and didn’t help me.”
True? Not true? As your social worker extraordinaire, I can tell you one thing (and probably only one thing!) which is THOUGHTS ARE THINGS.

What do I mean? If you keep telling yourself negative, angry, stress thoughts, guess what! Will you win the lottery! Will you be happy! Will you find the hot date you want on Match

Chances are slim. Because many, many people, much smarter than I (hard to believe, I know) will tell you there is a strong link between our mind, our body, and our actions.

So, what now? (Isn’t this where we started from?)

We all have choices in our thinking

Here are some changes and choices you can make today:

1) Decide to say “Thank you” when you wake up in the morning. Yea, I know its corny, do it anyway! Tons and tons of research show that those who have an ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE are healthier and happier. Isn’t this the goal?

2) Get a mentor! Ask that Social Worker in your unit. She needs a break from all that paperwork and sitting in her office anyway! I have a mentor, a nice man or woman in every one of my units who is happy to help someone else. Believe it or not, it helps them!

3) Get active. That’s right. Get off your duff! If your MD says Ok, spend a part of every day, moving that body!!!! Use it or lose it.

4) Find something you enjoy, people, sometimes, yes, even family, a hobby; go to the beach (we are in Florida!)

5) And of course, HELP SOMEONE ELSE,( you knew that was coming!) we all have this ability, even if its just to smile at someone, tell a joke or heaven forbid, tell someone if you can do it, they can too!

6) Contact this social worker extraordinaire, I take Medicare, Humana, and other insurances and am nice, good and helpful. Just ask Fred and Jose!