Much is written about happiness. Books. Articles. Songs. Videos. Happiness seems to be a universal pursuit and one that has existed through ages; indeed, it was a frequent topic among philosophers from the ancient worlds of West and East and has been pursued without pause since then. No one has yet to discover a single answer to how to find happiness. Russ Harris, a important leader in acceptance and commitment therapy, wrote a book entitled The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living. Is happiness attainable, or is it a trap, a sham?
The idea of creating happiness can sound absurd when you’re facing hardship. Sometimes, life makes people want to stop, turn around, and retreat to bed indefinitely. This can make a whole lot of sense, because life can be incredibly stressful. A burdensome struggle, even. No one is exempt from times of hardship. Further, sometimes people deal with extra challenges such as mental illness, abuse, trauma, loss, and more. How do you—how does anyone—keep from retreating? How do you smile and even find happiness in the face of strife?
Split is a movie that portrays a man living with dissociative identity disorder (DID), a mental disorder that develops in childhood as a defense mechanism against severe trauma, usually in the form of abuse. My daughter first introduced me to the existence of the movie, and she stated in her text message, “This is why the world needs your writing. To balance out crap like this.” (Okay, she’s maybe biased in her opinion of my writing, but I’m fine with it.) She’s right about what I do (or attempt to do). As a mental health writer, certified counselor, person who was diagnosed with mental health disorders after a traumatic brain injury, and general human being, I write to increase understanding and empathy.
The movie Split premiers today, January 20, 2017. Is Split another movie in a long line of sensationalist movies that uses mental illness as a fear factor to trigger our psyches to spring into alert, inducing that edge-of-the-seat sensation that generates a lot of cash for the movie industry?
Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Life, as wonderful as it often is, can also be quite stressful. Demands and deadlines can stretch people to their limit. Many different things can cause us to feel overwhelmed. The stressors of daily life can take a tremendous toll. Relationships can be difficult to navigate. If these weren’t challenging enough, sometimes we’re hit with big whammies like chronic illness, traumatic brain injury, mental illness, or other big obstacles.You can reduce that overwhelmed feeling and thrive. Rather than waiting for stressors to pass so you can feel better, take charge right now. Here are four practical things to do to reduce stress and overwhelm and boost wellbeing.
Twenty-Four Shadows has received honors from top book review companies. Kirkus Reviews awarded Twenty-Four Shadows a Kirkus Star, a rating reserved for “books of remarkable merit.” Additionally, the US Review of Books has given this novel a Recommended rating, also an honor reserved for a select few books. I couldn’t be more thrilled, but the reason might be different than what people may think.
Ah, life. So many adjectives describe it. Magnificent, stressful, wonderful, difficult, joyous, challenging, invigorating, and exhausting are but a few words that apply to the four-letter-word “life” (and there are, indeed, some four-letter-words that can also describe it). Note that among the words just listed, “easy” is not present. In the words of the great philosopher/writer Voltaire, “Life is a shipwreck…” That it is. As human beings, we must struggle against many obstacles and challenges. From the moment of our first interaction with siblings or our first play date with friends, we have to discover and rediscover and re-rediscover how to work with others to keep our sailboats afloat. We have to protect what is ours yet share what is ours. We have to adjust our behavior according to social norms yet be true to ourselves. We have to figure out how to navigate relationships that involve power disparity. We have to defend ourselves yet avoid being aggressive.
Let’s face it. Being human is often no easy task. Myriad challenges can greet us on a daily, even an hourly, basis. We face struggles both intrapersonal and interpersonal. There are work difficulties and home difficulties. Illnesses physical and mental rise up to block us in our quest for a life worth living. All of this is enough to make anyone want to hole up in a dark, quiet room and rarely leave.